The Conseil de la Concurrence has sentenced the main manufacturers of ball bearings on the French market for having enforced a cartel agreement. The Conseil de la Concurrence pronounced, for this practice referred by the French Minister of Economy, penalties of 19 014 000 euro (decision of September 19, 2002).
Agreement on gross prices and on granted rates of rebate
The Conseil de la Concurrence established that in 1993 and 1997, the Swedish company SKF, the French company SNR, and the German companies FAG and INA had closed links and agreed both on the level of increases in gross prices and on the rates of price rebate applied to distributors. Besides, the Conseil de la Concurrence also raised that, in 1993, the Japanese companies, Koyo and NSK, had agreed, with some of the above companies, on the level of price increases to be applied to several industrial customers.
The Conseil de la Concurrence underlined that such exchanges of information on evolutions of gross prices and rates of rebate, before these are announced and become actual, can favour artificial price increases. Indeed, the concerned companies are urged to proceed to such increases all the more as they are sure that their competitors will also increase their prices at the same moment.
The instruction also showed that distributors could not benefit from the technical aid of manufacturers when they supplied customers situated outside the agreed zone. The Conseil de la Concurrence considered that such a practice could hinder competition among distributors and, also, consolidate price agreements between manufacturers.
Serious practices that justify substantial financial penalties
These behaviours constitute the most obvious violation of competition's law and are particularly reprehensible as far as:
> See decision of the Paris Court of Appeal (13rd May 2003)
> See decision of the Paris Court of Appeal (17th June 2003)