June 5, 2020 / 1:12 PM / a month ago

CCI rules Tata Steel, SKF, Schaeffler units colluded on bearings prices

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a screen displaying Tata Steel logo before the start of a news conference in Mumbai, India May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/File Photo

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India’s antitrust body has ruled that units of Sweden’s AB SKF, Germany’s Schaeffler AG and Tata Steel Ltd, along with local firm National Engineering Industries, are guilty of colluding and fixing prices of vehicle ball bearings.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) began a probe into the matter in 2017 after receiving information that the entities had been colluding on bearings prices from 2009-2014, to pass on higher raw material costs to customers in the auto sector.

In a 36-page order issued on Friday, the CCI said it “holds NEI, Schaeffler, SKF and Tata Bearing guilty” of contravening the country’s antitrust laws.

However, it added that it had decided not to impose a penalty, saying the “ends of justice would be met if the parties cease such cartel behaviour and desist from indulging in it.”

The CCI order showed the case was initiated after Schaeffler in 2017 filed a so-called leniency application, in which companies seek lesser penalties and make disclosures about their activities.

Later, National Engineering Industries also filed a similar plea under the leniency programme, the CCI order said.

Tata Steel said in a statement that its divisions had strong governance practices regarding anti-competitive conduct and the company was “extremely mindful of compliance to the regulatory norms”. SKF, Schaeffler and National Engineering Industries did not respond to a request for comment.

Reuters reported last year that CCI’s investigations arm concluded that SKF India, Schaeffler India, Tata Steel’s bearings unit and National Engineering Industries had contravened antitrust law by discussing and agreeing prices.

Reporting by Aditya Kalra; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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