Hyundai Motor Gets Biggest Fine in South Korea Price-Fixing Case

Hyundai Motor Co. and five imported-vehicle distributors were fined a combined 116 billion won ($104 million) by the South Korea’s antitrust watchdog for fixing prices on trucks and tractors sold in the country.

The companies colluded on prices in 55 meetings held from December 2002 to April 2011, the Fair Trade Commission said today. Seoul-based Hyundai, South Korea’s largest automaker, was ordered to pay 71.7 billion won, the largest fine.

Scania Korea Ltd., Volvo Group Korea Co., Daimler Trucks Korea Ltd., MAN Truck & Bus Korea Ltd. and Tata Daewoo Commercial Vehicle Co. worked with Hyundai in sharing plans for raising prices, inventory levels and promotion programs, the regulator said. The vehicles involved in the case included dump trucks, tractors and cargo trucks, it said.

“The companies acted to avoid fair competition and maintained similar price levels, resulting in a continued increase in selling prices of large vehicles during the cited period, regardless of market conditions,” the commission said on its website.

Hyundai rose 2 percent to 230,000 won at the close in Seoul trading, before the regulator’s announcement. The stock has advanced 5.3 percent this year, compared with a 4.9 percent decline for the Kospi Index.

“In order to understand the current truck market situation, Hyundai Motor shared information including sales figures through industry meetings, but we’ve never used it for deciding on prices,” Hyundai said in an e-mailed statement. “We will humbly accept the outcome of the FTC’s investigation.”

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