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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Mercedes-Benz accused of 'price-fixing': China media

AFP  Shanghai, August 18, 2014
First Published: 22:38 IST(18/8/2014) | Last Updated: 22:44 IST(18/8/2014)

China has accused Mercedes-Benz, a unit of German car giant Daimler, of price-fixing, state media reported, amid an anti-monopoly investigation into foreign carmakers.

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Pricing authorities in the eastern province of Jiangsu have collected evidence that Mercedes-Benz controlled prices of its spare parts and maintenance services, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.

The total cost of all spare parts for a Mercedes-Benz C-class could be 12 times more than a finished model, the report said, citing data from an industry group.

"The Benz case involves typical vertical price-fixing," Zhou Gao, head of anti-monopoly department at the Jiangsu price bureau, told Xinhua.

The bureau was designated by China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) — one of several Chinese government bodies that investigates violations of the country's "anti-monopoly" law — to probe Mercedes-Benz for alleged monopoly actions, said Zhou.

A Daimler spokesperson confirmed Monday that the company was still "assisting" Chinese authorities in an investigation but declined  to comment on the Xinhua report.

"We are unable to comment further on what is still an on-going matter," the company said in a statement provided to AFP.

Mercedes-Benz said in early August that it will cut spare parts prices from September in response to the anti-monopoly investigation by NDRC.

The case comes against the backdrop of a sweeping probe into foreign firms in China, which has spread from pharmaceuticals and baby formula to the auto sector, the world's largest but dominated by foreign brands.

More than 1,000 companies in the country's auto sector, both domestic and foreign, are currently under anti-monopoly probes by the government, the China Daily newspaper has reported.

The NDRC has yet to announce its findings and penalties for the companies involved.


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