The FCA proposes that the Market Court impose infringement fines of a total of €3.76 million to HL Group Oy, Koivunen Oy, Oy Kaha Ab and Örum Ab for the realised cartel in the wholesale of automobile spare part markets.
The FCA raided the companies suspected of the cartel in July 2004 after one of the companies involved, Oy Arwidson Ab, had confessed its implication in the cartel.
This is the first time in Finland when a company revealed as part of a cartel is not proposed sanction fees after the company has taken advantage of the opportunity provided by law to free itself from the sanction fees.
The FCA sees that HL Group, Koivunen, Kaha, Örum and Arwidson agreed on the illegal cooperation in April 2004 after their customer, Osaset resale chain, announced the signing of a cooperation agreement with Atoy Oy. Atoy was a competitor for the companies in the cartel. The objective was to launch a new business model with the cooperation agreement with Osaset.
HL Group, Koivunen, Kaha, Örum and Arwidson started to boycott Osaset chain in order to force them to abandon their cooperation with Atoy. The boycott was realised by cutting the discounts granted to the Osaset chain. In practice, this led to the ending of the business relationship with the chain. The mutual boycott between the five above-mentioned wholesalers has been cancelled during the procedures by the FCA.
Serious Competition Restraint
The FCA considers the actions of the companies as a serious competition infringement. The specific purpose of the wholesale cartel was to restrict competition in the automobile spare part markets. The FCA proposes that the sanction fees be imposed on a company-specific basis in the following manner:
|Koivunen Oy||€1.65 million|
|Oy Kaha Ab||€1.33 million|
|Örum Oy Ab||€525,000|
|HL Group Oy||€260,000|
The FCA does not propose sanction fees to Arwidson since the company confessed its implication in the competition restraint and co-operated with the FCA in order to uncover the cartel. There are also other cases in which the inspection has been commenced on the basis of the information received from the confession by a company in a cartel, which are being processed in the FCA.
The total value of the automobile spare part and equipment markets is approx. €800 million. The figure includes the brand spare part trade and the so-called independent spare part trade, which is currently being inspected. The combined total turnover of the wholesalers being considered for the sanction fine proposition is €200-250 million, depending on the method of calculation.
For more information:
Assistant Director, Mr Rainer Lindberg, phone: +358 (0)9 7314 3351