China Fines Mercedes $56 Million for Pricing Monopoly

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Authorities in China’s eastern Jiangsu province fined Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz 350 million yuan ($56 million) for a pricing monopoly there, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The fine is the highest handed out so far to automakers probed by the government last year for antitrust violations. Government investigators raided Mercedes-Benz’s office in Shanghai as part of an anti-monopoly probe last August.

“Mercedes-Benz China accepts the decision and takes its responsibilities under the competition law very seriously,” Daimler said in an e-mailed statement. “We have taken all appropriate steps to ensure to fully comply with the law.”

Global car manufacturers, food companies and technology companies, including Microsoft Corp., faced antitrust probes last year, prompting trade groups to complain about unfair treatment. Volkswagen AG’s Audi and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s Chrysler division were also penalized.

China found a dozen Japanese auto-parts makers guilty of price fixing last year and doled out a total of 1.24 billion yuan in fines, the biggest antitrust penalties in the country since relevant rules came into effect seven years ago. Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. drew the biggest fine at 290.4 million yuan -- then the biggest-ever antitrust penalty for a single company.

— With assistance by Alexandra Ho

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