OFT issues statement of objections against Mercedes-Benz and five commercial vehicle dealers
54/12 28 June 2012
The OFT today issued a Statement of Objections alleging that Mercedes-Benz and five dealers of Mercedes-Benz trucks and vans have infringed competition law.
The case comprises five separate alleged infringements that took place at different periods between March 2007 and January 2010. Each alleged infringement involved two or three dealers. The OFT's provisional finding is that Mercedes-Benz was also involved in two of the alleged infringements.
The precise content of the arrangements differs among the five alleged infringements but all contain, to varying degrees, at least some element of market sharing, price coordination and/or exchange of commercially sensitive information. The evidence also suggests that, in respect of two of the alleged infringements, Mercedes-Benz helped to facilitate or consolidate the arrangements amongst the dealers.
Ali Nikpay, OFT Senior Director of Cartels, said:
'Based on the evidence currently before us, we have reason to believe that these dealers co-operated to limit competition in their areas.
'This case, which involves dealers who are mainly active in areas within the North of England and parts of Wales and Scotland, shows the OFT's commitment to pursuing allegations of serious competition law infringements irrespective of the size of the companies involved or the geographic scope of the case.
'These are the OFT's provisional findings only. All parties will now have a full opportunity to respond to our statement before we decide whether competition law has in fact been infringed.'
- The Statement of Objections is addressed to the following companies:
- Ciceley Commercials Limited and its ultimate parent Ciceley Limited
- Enza Motors Limited, its parent Enza Holdings Limited and its ultimate parent Enza Group Limited
- H & L Garages Limited and its parent Dusted Powder Limited
- Mercedes-Benz UK Limited, its parent Daimler UK Limited and its ultimate parent Daimler AG
- Northside Truck & Van Limited and its ultimate parent S.A.H. Limited
- Road Range Limited
- Three of the alleged infringements concern vans and two concern trucks.
- The Competition Act 1998 prohibits agreements, practices and conduct that may have a damaging effect on competition in the UK. The Chapter I prohibition covers anti-competitive agreements and concerted practices that have the object or effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition in the UK or a part of it and which may affect trade in the UK or a part of it.
- A Statement of Objections gives notice of a proposed infringement decision under the Competition Act 1998 to the parties involved. The parties then have the opportunity to make written and oral representations in response to the case set out by the OFT. Such representations will be considered by the OFT before any final decision is made.
- The Statement of Objections will not be published. In accordance with the OFT's guidance on Involving third parties in Competition Act investigations (pdf 289 kb), any person who wishes to comment on the OFT's provisional findings, and who is in a position materially to assist the OFT in testing its factual, legal or economic arguments, may request a non-confidential version of the statement of objections by contacting the OFT no later than 19 July 2012.
- Anyone who has information about a cartel is asked to call the cartels hotline on 0800 085 1664 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Under the OFT's leniency policy an undertaking that has been involved in a cartel may be granted immunity from penalties or a significant reduction in penalty in return for reporting certain categories of Competition Act 1998 infringements and assisting the OFT with its investigation. The OFT also operates a rewards policy under which it may pay a financial reward of up to £100,000 in return for information which helps it to identify and take action against illegal cartels.
For more information see the case page for this investigation - Investigation into the distribution of Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles.
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