Swiss competition body probes Swatch offshoot
The Swiss Competition Commission is investigating ETA Manufacture Horlogere Suisse for possibly breaking anti-cartel rules.Geneva – The Swiss Competition Commission said on Tuesday it was investigating a Swatch Group subsidiary, ETA Manufacture Horlogere Suisse, in case it had flouted anti-cartel rules.
"This investigation should allow us to determine if the behavior of ETA on the mechanic movement market contravened rules on cartels," the commission said in a statement.
The commission said it received "several complaints" last year that ETA, which makes movements and watches, had informed several clients that it was raising prices and modifying payment conditions for 2009.
The complaints led to a preliminary probe in November 2008 which found signs that "ETA could abuse its potentially dominant position," it said.
It added that a key question was whether watch brands which are part of the group had been given preferential treatment.
Swatch Group described the timing of the investigation as "unfortunate."
It also said that over the past year, clients from outside the group have "massively cancelled or postponed their orders, without any consideration for ETA staff, its infrastructure nor the investments which have been considerable."
The world's largest watchmaker said however that it was "confident" that its subsidiary would get a positive outcome in this probe.
ETA was previously implicated in another anti-trust case when it said it would stop delivering ebauches -- the basic parts of a watch movement.
That case was settled in 2004 amicably, with ETA agreeing to supply the ebauches to clients until the end of 2010.
AFP / Expatica