The National Competition Commission has hit the local operators of Procter & Gamble and L’Oreal with multi-million Euro fines over price fixing of professional hair care products in Spain.
The anti-trust authority is fining a total of eight companies operating in the salon professional sector, for their involvement in what the commission refers to as a cartel.
The body is also fining industry association the National Association of Perfume and Cosmetics, claiming that it also played a key part of the cartel.
L’Oreal ordered to pay €23.2m
The fines total €50m and it is L’Oreal that has been given the highest in the group at.€23.2m, while Productos Cosmeticos SLU, which was bought by L’Oreal in 2004, was totld to pay €12m.
The other companies named by the commission as being part of the cartel are Eugene Perma Espana, Cosmetica Cosbar Cosmetica Tecnica, The Colomer Group Spain and DSP Haircare Products.
The cartel was allegedly formed back in 1989 and is refered to by the commission as the G8 in its documentation. It is alleged that leaders of the eight business units met twice a year to discuss various market strategies, including pricing.
Henkel Iberica blows the whistle
The panel of judges from the anti-trust authorities said that they were informed of the price-fixing activities by the eighth member of the cartel, Henkel Iberica.
According to documentation released by the authorities, the fact that Henkel Iberica informed the body about the cartel’s activities meant that the company was free from prosecution due to a law passed in 2008.
Press reports also detail that L’Oreal has subsequently issued a statement denying that the meetings with the other companies were for the purpose of price-fixing, while P&G has refused to comment on the matter.