Unilever likely to face fine for fixing wash powder price

CONSUMER goods giant Unilever, which makes Persil, is expected to be fined today by competition watchdogs for fixing prices in the washing powder market.

The Anglo-Dutch firm, together with Ariel maker Procter & Gamble, is understood to have struck a deal with the European Commission that will see it receive a reduced penalty in exchange for admitting it participated in a cartel.

The Commission can fine companies as much as ten per cent of global sales. However, the figure is more often between two and three per cent of sales. Germany’s Henkel, which alerted the European Commission to the cartel in washing powder, will not be penalised, the source said. Unilever is a dominant force in detergents while P&G is the market leader.

The EU watchdog raided the three companies in June 2008 on suspicion of price fixing, and also sought information from US-based household products firm Sara Lee.

The commission has imposed close to €12bn (£10.6bn) worth of fines on cartels in the five years to 2010.