Germany fines steelmakers EUR646 million for price fixing

FRANKFURT AM MAIN (AFP) – Germany’s anti-trust watchdog yesterday said it had issued a EUR646 million (USD720 million) fine against three steel manufacturers and three individuals for fixing prices for plate steel.

The Federal Cartel Office said Germany’s Thyssenkrupp Steel Europe, Salzgitter-owned Ilsenburger Grobblech and Austria’s Voestalpine Grobblech had admitted to the accusations and accepted the penalties.

At regular meetings between 2002 and 2016, representatives from the companies “agreed on the most important price supplements and surcharges for specific quarto plates in Germany,” President of the cartel office Andreas Mundt said in a statement.

According to the competition body, the add-on prices agreed by the steel producers “accounted for around 20-25 per cent of the total price of quarto plates” over the period.

Quarto plates are hot-rolled flat steel products used in shipbuilding, bridges, wind turbines and pipelines.

A fourth company, Dillinger Huettenwerke, was also involved in the cartel but escaped punishment because it was the first to cooperate with the investigation.

Voestalpine Grobblech likewise cooperated with Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, and saw its fine reduced accordingly.

The Austrian firm separately announced it had agreed to a fine of EUR65.5 million.

“The origins of the events lie in the distant past,” Voestalpine said, adding that current members of the management board “were neither involved in this matter and nor were they aware of it”.