German competition watchdog swats pesticide firms

FRANKFURT AM MAIN (AFP) – German competition authorities said yesterday they had stung seven pesticide wholesalers with a EUR155 million (USD172 million) fine over a 17-year-long collusion on prices.

“Investigations have shown that the companies agreed on price lists for plant protection products in the spring and autumn of each year between 1998 and… March 2015,” the president of the Bundeskartellamt competition watchdog, Andreas Mundt, said in a statement.

“Especially during the first few years, some companies simply used the agreed price list to set their own prices and basically just added their respective company logo,” Mundt added.

One firm, Beiselen, was the first to report the anticompetitive behaviour and thereby escaped a fine.

But others, including the four largest players in the German wholesale pesticides market, were fined, as well as individual employees responsible for the infringements.

A raid by the competition office “terminated the anti-competitive practices” in March 2015, it said.

Those affected by the fines can still appeal against them in court, the watchdog added.