Rosenbauer gets hand slapped in Germany
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10 February 2011
Bundeskartellamt imposes multi-million euro fines against manufacturers of fire-fighting vehicles
Bonn, 10 February 2011: Today the Bundeskartellamt imposed fines totalling € 20.5 million on three manufacturers of fire-fighting vehicles. The three companies involved are Albert Ziegler GmbH & Co. KG, Giengen an der Brenz, Schlingmann GmbH & Co. KG, Dissen, and the Rosenbauer Group with business locations in Luckenwalde und Leonding/Austria. Proceedings are still pending against a fourth manufacturer. The Bundeskartellamt also imposed a fine on an accountant because of his collaboration with the cartel.
Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt, stated: "The companies participating in the cartel have implemented illegal price-fixing and quota agreements since at least 2001 and carved up the German market for fire-fighting vehicles among themselves. This has caused many municipalities considerable financial harm."
For years the four cartel members granted one another a certain share of sales, so-called "target quotas". The companies would notify their order intake to an accountant based in Switzerland. The latter would then compile lists which were used to monitor adherence to the agreed quotas at regular meetings of the cartel at Zurich Airport. The companies also agreed on price increases.
In addition to the "Zurich meetings" regular meetings were held at sales manager level. At these meetings invitations to tender received from municipalities for orders of fire-fighting vehicles were divided among the cartel members. The proceedings against the sales managers, CEOs and
directors involved were referred to the competent public prosecutors offices for examination under criminal law.
The Bundeskartellamt became aware of the agreements by way of an anonymous notification and carried out four searches between May 2009 and July 2010. In two of the searches which were conducted in Austria, it was successfully assisted by the Austrian competition authority.
The extensive cooperation of the companies and persons involved during the proceedings was taken into consideration in the calculation of the fines. The fines are not yet final and can be appealed at the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court. However, a settlement to end the proceedings was agreed with the companies involved.
In addition to the proceedings against manufacturers of fire-fighting vehicles, the Bundeskartellamt is conducting proceedings against manufacturers of fire engines which are equipped with turntable ladders.