Unilever fined for EU price fix

CONSUMER goods giants Unilever and Procter & Gamble were yesterday fined €315.2m (£281m) by EU regulators for fixing washing powder prices in eight EU countries.

Germany’s Henkel, which alerted the European Commission to the cartel in laundry detergents, was not fined. The penalty for Unilever was €104m while P&G was fined €211.2m.

As part of the Commission’s settlement procedure, the EU watchdog had cut the fines by ten per cent in return for the firms’ admissions that they participated in the cartel, which the Commission had dubbed “purity” in its investigation.

“By acknowledging their participation in the cartel, the companies enabled the Commission to swiftly conclude its investigation,” EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said.

P&G owns the Tide, Gain and Era brands of washing powder while Anglo-Dutch consumer goods group Unilever makes detergent products under the brand names Omo and Surf.

Unilever said it had used the investigation’s findings to tighten up its internal procedures, while adding that the fine was covered by provisions made in its 2010 results.