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EU to fine animal feed cartel

EU regulators are set to soon fine an animal-feed cartel for illegal price fixing but will lower the penalties as the firms admitted to breaching EU rules, reports state.

The case will be the second under the European Commission's fast-track settlement procedure after 9 memory-chip makers admitted in May to taking part in a cartel and were penalised, reports Reuters. Under this process, companies receive a 10% reduction in fines in return for acknowledging the offence.

According to Reuters, a source said about 6 companies are involved in the cartel. The total fine is expected to be lower than the €331 mln ($416.9 mln) for the chipmakers cartel. The European Commission, the EU antitrust watchdog, declined to comment on the case.

US chemicals company FMC said in a regulatory filing in May it had set aside $21 mln to cover the cost of resolving the issue after the Commission opened proceedings against the firm, its Dutch unit and its industrial chemicals unit Foret in January 2009.

Belgian chemicals and plastics company Tessenderlo and Finnish peer Kemira said in January they were contacted by the European Commission as part of its investigation into a suspected animal-feed cartel. Kemira has since sold its animal feeds business to Norway's Yara.

One firm has opted out of the settlement procedure, one of the sources said, declining to provide details.

The Commission launched its settlement procedure in July 2008 in a bid to speed up the decision-making process and free up resources. The EU executive can fine companies up to 10% of their global turnover for breaking EU laws.

Source: Reuters

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