German car maker Daimler AG’s luxury brand division Mercedes-Benz has been found guilty of manipulating prices for after-sales services in China, Reuters said, citing a report from the official Xinhua News Agency.
The 2008 anti-monopoly law allows the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) to impose fines of up to 10 percent of a company’s revenues in the country for the previous year, according to the British wire agency. The Xinhua report did not mention possible penalties.
Anti-trust probers are now focusing on the auto industry, prompting foreign players such as Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen AG’s Audi, and BMW to slash prices on spare parts in recent weeks.
The Jiangsu provincial price bureau, which launched the investigation into Mercedes-Benz last month, found evidence of anti-competitive practices after raiding the company’s dealerships in the eastern coastal province as well as an office in neighboring Shanghai, Xinhua reported.
“It is a typical case of a vertical monopoly in which the carmaker uses its leading position to control the prices of its spare parts, repair and maintenance services in downstream markets,” Zhou Gao, chief of the anti-trust investigation at the Jiangsu bureau, told Xinhua.
Xinhua said replacing all the spare parts in a Mercedes-Benz C-Class could be 12 times more expensive than buying a new vehicle, citing a report from the China Automotive Maintenance and Repair Trade Association.
Early this month the NDRC said it would punish Audi and Fiat SpA’s Chrysler division for monopolistic practices. Local media reported last week that Audi would be fined around 250 million yuan (US$40.7 million), according to Reuters.
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