Carmakers face major fines for cartel agreement

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For years, Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW have colluded on steel prices, and now the federal antitrust agency has imposed a fine of around 100 million euros. According to the authorities, the manufacturers admitted the agreement.

The Bundeskartellamt has imposed fines of approximately 100 million euros on Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW for price fixing in steel purchasing. The antitrust agency announced that the companies had colluded on the purchase of long steel from 2004 to 2013. The investigations against three suppliers and one association were discontinued for reasons of discretion.

In the industry, long steel is the term used to describe round steel bars which, after forging, are used, among other things, to build gear parts, crankshafts or connecting rods.

Companies have cooperated

According to the Bundeskartellamt, the three companies admitted the agreement and agreed to an “amicable termination of the proceedings”. According to the authority, this was taken into account when setting the fine, as was the fact that they cooperated with the antitrust agency during the proceedings.

The proceedings had been underway for three and a half years and were the result of previous investigations against several steel producers, to whom the Bonn competition authorities had already imposed a fine of 205 million euros last year. The price of long steel consists of three components: Base price, alloy surcharge and scrap surcharge.

Agreements on surcharges

Depending on its grade, steel contains varying proportions of chromium, nickel and other metals, for which the alloy surcharge is paid. The scrap surcharge is due for the proportion of scrap metal used in production. Uniform calculation formulas were agreed for these surcharges, not the base price.

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