Opinion

Australia, Malaysia and Nigeria impose record antitrust fines

Published Date
Jan 30, 2024
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Several antitrust authorities ended 2023 with a bang by imposing record fines. Resale price maintenance (RPM) and cartel conduct were particularly in the spotlight.

In Australia, the Federal Court imposed a record AUD15m (approx. EUR9.1m) RPM penalty on power tool supplier Techtronic Industries Australia. The company admitted to entering into 97 agreements with retailers and dealers over a five-year period, which restricted the sale of Milwaukee brand power tools, hand tools and accessories below a specified minimum price. It also admitted to enforcing these contractual provisions on numerous occasions by warning dealers that offered to sell or sold the products below the specified price, or withholding supply from dealers that failed to adhere to the contract.

The Court also ordered Techtronic to post corrective notices on its website and to its dealers, implement a compliance programme and pay part of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC)’s costs.

The ACCC noted that the case “sends a strong signal to deter others from engaging in RPM”. On instituting court proceedings, the ACCC particularly called out RPM in industries where retailers would otherwise strongly compete on price, “such as by offering price match guarantees to consumers”.

Elsewhere in APAC, Malaysia’s Competition Commission (MyCC) also imposed a record penalty, fining five feed millers MYR415.5m (EUR81.1m) for agreeing to fix prices of poultry feed over three separate periods.

The decision followed simultaneous dawn raids at each of the companies in November 2021 – in itself a first for the authority – and the creation of a special task force in 2022 to investigate antitrust issues in the chicken and egg sector. MyCC plans to continue monitoring the industry following the Malaysian government’s decision to discontinue subsidies and price controls. As for other antitrust authorities in the region, a current priority is to target cartels in the food and agriculture sectors.

Finally, in Africa, Nigeria’s antitrust authority has settled an investigation which resulted in a USD110m fine, the authority’s highest-ever penalty since it was established in 2019.

For more commentary on fining trends, look out for our upcoming Global antitrust enforcement report.

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This content was originally published by Allen & Overy before the A&O Shearman merger

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