Business

China fines Daimler's Mercedes-Benz for price-fixing

Two customers sit in a Mercedes-Benz at a luxury car showroom, May 11, 2004, in Beijing, China. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Foreign carmakers have poured huge amounts of money into China hoping to capture a slice of the market

China has fined Daimler's Mercedes-Benz 350m yuan ($56.5m; £37.6m) for price-fixing as part of a broader clampdown on anti-monopolistic practices.

A pricing regulator in Jiangsu said the luxury German carmaker pressured local dealers into setting a minimum sales price on some of its car models.

Some of its local dealers were also fined 7.7m yuan, regulators said.

A Mercedes-Benz said it "accepts the decision and takes its responsibilities under competition law very seriously".

"We have taken all appropriate steps to ensure to fully comply with the law," a spokesperson told the Reuters news agency.

In a statement, the Chinese regulator said: "The investigation found Mercedes-Benz and its dealers in Jiangsu came to and carried out monopoly agreements to cap the lowest sales prices of E-Class, S-Class models and certain spare parts."

Last year, the Xinhua news agency reported that Mercedes had also been found guilty of manipulating the prices of after-sales services in China.

Crackdown

China is the world's largest car market and foreign automakers have been under scrutiny for allegedly reaping high profits by overcharging customers.

Last year, Chinese regulators fined the local units of Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler a combined $46m for price-fixing.

They also levied a record fine totalling 1.24bn yuan on 12 Japanese car parts companies including Sumitomo Electric and Mitsubishi Electric for price-fixing.

Authorities also conducted investigations into foreign business practices in the pharmaceutical, technology and food sectors.

Last August, six producers of infant formula - all foreign companies - were given a record fine for price-fixing.

As a result, there have been rising concerns in the foreign business community that they are being targeted disproportionately.

However, China says it does not discriminate between domestic and overseas companies.

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