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News 436 views last update:6 Aug 2012

'Evonik must reveal EU papers on additive cartel'

Evonik Industries AG, Germany's largest specialty chemicals maker, should turn over European Union filings about its involvement in a 13-year price-fixing cartel, lawyers for meatpackers told a UK judge, Bloomberg reports.

The filings, in which Evonik sought to reduce EU fines by describing the cartel for animal-feed additives, would assist in customer lawsuits against the cartel members, a lawyer for the Dutch meat processor Vion and Moy Park, a UK unit of Brazilian meatpacker Marfrig Alimentos SA, argued.
 
“Detailed notes” and documents about “the day-to-day operations of the cartel and how prices were fixed” would assist the companies in their lawsuit, Moy Park’s lawyer said at the hearing at the Competition Appeal Tribunal in London.
 
European Commission antitrust regulators in 2002 fined Essen, Germany-based Evonik €118 million ($154 million) for agreeing with other companies to fix the price of the amino acid methionine, from 1986 to 1999. The European Court of Justice dismissed the company’s appeal in 2008.
 
Immunity
Evonik earlier asked to add Sanofi-Aventis SA as a co- defendant in the case. Aventis SA, now part of Paris-based Sanofi-Aventis, and another unit were also part of the cartel.
 
Aventis won immunity from fines in the case by revealing the cartel to authorities and cooperating with the investigation.
 
The market for the additive, also used to improve cow fertility, was worth about 260 million euros a year in Europe when the cartel operated, according to the EU.
 
Evonik is part-owned by UK buyout firm CVC Capital Partners Ltd. The chemical and energy group acquired the Degussa unit in 2006, after the cartel ended.
 

 

Dick Ziggers

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