Picture: QUICKPIC
Picture: QUICKPIC

Autoliv, one of the world’s biggest automotive components makers, will pay a R150m Competition Commission fine, having already reached a settlement in the US, Canada and EU over price fixing, market division and collusive tendering.

The Sweden-based group, which manufactures airbags, seatbelts and steering wheels, has admitted it colluded with competitors TRW Automotive, Takata Group, Toyoda Gosei and Tokai Rika. This comes after the commission initiated a complaint into alleged collusive conduct in August 2012.

The conduct affected tenders issued by car manufacturers, including BMW and VW, for the manufacture and supply of airbags, seatbelts and steering wheels for brands that included Polo, Golf, Passat, certain Audi ranges, and also the Porsche Cajun and Macan, and the BMW X5 and X6.

"Although global tenders were involved, the tenders had an effect in SA and the South African consumer was affected," the commission said on Wednesday. The commission can fine up to 10% of annual turnover, but only fined 2.5% per contravention, of 15 contraventions. "This is the first consent agreement before the tribunal in this matter, this is just the tip of the iceberg, there is more coming," it said.

In SA, TRW had received leniency in this matter, the tribunal said. Meanwhile, Autoliv, which had co-operated with competition authorities, would not be fined in another contravention involving Toyota, Honda and Peugeot. However, it may be asked to testify in court, but not as a respondent.

In 2015, Autoliv reached an $81m settlement agreement in the US and a settlement with Canadian authorities worth $3.2m. Meanwhile, this week, the European Commission fined Autoliv, Tokai Rika, Takata, Toyoda Gosei and Marutaka a total of €34m for breaching EU anti-trust rules. The companies had taken part in one or more of four cartels for the supply of seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels to Japanese car manufacturers in the EU, it said.

"Seatbelts and airbags protect lives every day and are essential in all cars in the EU. The five suppliers fined today colluded to maximise their profits from the sale of these components," EU commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy said.

"This may have raised the costs of these car parts for a number of manufacturers selling cars in Europe, potentially affecting consumers. We do not accept cartels that affect European consumers, even if the cartel is organised outside Europe."

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