Unilever and Procter & Gamble have been have been fined a combined 315.2 million euros by competition authorities for fixing washing powder prices in eight EU countries.
The American multinational Procter & Gamble (fined 211.2 million euros) is the world’s number one household product maker. Anglo-Dutch Unilever (fined 104 million euros) makes detergents.
The price-fixing was in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands between 2002 and 2005.
The European Commission, which called its investigation “Purity”, gave the two offenders ten percent off the fine for admitting they had done it, and for cooperating.
Germany’s Henkel in 2008 had informed Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia about the cartel activity, thereby avoiding fines for breach of EU competition rules itself.
In the five years to 2010, Brussels has fined cartels nearly 12 billion euros.