Bundeskartellamt imposes fines on automotive part manufacturers
The Bundeskartellamt has imposed fines amounting to 9.6 million euros on three manufacturers of heat shields and their representatives.
The companies involved are Elring Klinger Abschirmtechnik (Schweiz) AG, Sevelen (Switzerland), Estamp S.A.U., Terrassa (Spain) and Lydall Gerhardi GmbH & Co. KG, Meinerzhagen (Germany). No fine was imposed on Carcoustics International GmbH, Leverkusen (Germany) which also participated in the illegal agreements because by cooperating with the authority it had helped to uncover and provide evidence of the cartel.
The companies are accused of agreeing in 2011 to pass on increased material costs to their customer VW.
Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt:
"By exchanging very sensitive information the companies wanted to strengthen their negotiating position with their customer VW. This included e.g. mutual information about the state of negotiation of the companies with their customer. The members of the cartel also agreed that they wanted to pass on an increase in certain aluminium-related costs to their customer VW."
Heat shields are aluminium plates which in a vehicle primarily shield radiated heat emitted from the engine room and exhaust tract from other areas (passenger compartment, fuel tank etc.). The aluminium sheets are bought as a semi-finished product in the form of coils and then rolled into the shape required.
Fines are generally calculated according to the gravity and duration of the competition law violation. In this particular case the market power and the behaviour of the opposite market side were also taken into account in the companies' favour. In calculating the fines the Bundeskartellamt also took into consideration that Lydall Gerhardi and Elring Klinger had cooperated with the authority. A settlement agreement was reached with all three companies.
The fining decisions are not yet final and can be appealed to the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court.
A case summary in accordance with Section 53 (5) of the German Competition Act (GWB) (in German) will be published shortly on the Bundeskartellamt's website.