France fines soap cartel 361 mln euros

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France's competition authority said on Thursday it had fined three detergent manufacturers 361 million euros ($483 million) for price fixing but let off a fourth for blowing the whistle.

Germany's Henkel was fined 92.3 million euros and US companies Procter & Gamble and Colgate-Palmolive 233.6 million euros and 35.4 million euros respectively, Competition Authority head Bruno Lasserre told journalists.

Anglo-Dutch giant Unilever took part in the cartel and then reported it to the competition authority, meaning it escaped a theoretical fin of 248.5 million euros, Lasserre said.

The four companies were found to have fixed prices and sales promotions to the detriment of consumers and distributors.

The cartel lasted from 1997 to 2004, with a short interruption between October 1998 and November 1999.

© 2011 AFP

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