European Commission Probes Detergent Price Fixing

25 June 2008

BRUSSELS: European Commission investigators have swooped on the offices of major consumer goods producers, including Unilever and Procter & Gamble, to probe allegations of price-fixing on detergents.

The raids took place at offices in at least six countries. But officials stressed: "The fact that the European Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour, nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself."

Although the EC did not give out details of which companies are involved, both Unilever and P&G confirmed a number of their offices had been visited.

The world's biggest advertiser said: "P&G is among a number of manufacturers helping the European Commission with its inquiries. It is our policy to fully abide by the spirit and letter of all laws."

In addition, German firm Henkel, Sara Lee and Reckitt Benckiser were on the inspectors' hit list.

If cartel activity was discovered, the companies could be fined up to 10% of their worldwide turnover.

Although it is unlikely such a huge penalty would be imposed, fines for price collaboration have sharply increased in recent years.

Data sourced from The Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff