Brussels--The EC has sent a "statement of objections" to some producers of polybutadiene rubber, alleging participation in a price-fixing cartel.
EC competition spokesman, Jonathan Todd said, "We can confirm that the Commission sent a letter - the so-called 'Statement of Objections' - to several companies on 8 June. We cannot give information on the addressees nor on the content of the letter. This letter is the first stage in the procedure to investigate possible anti-trust violations. The companies are presumed innocent until proven otherwise. They have two months to reply to the letter. They can also request an oral hearing with the Commission to state their position."
Bayer's legal spokesman confirmed the company had received a letter, and that it applied to the period before Lanxess split away. He declined to make any further comment, however, except to say the company intended to cooperate with the authorities.
Separately, a spokeswoman for Dow Chemical also confirmed that Dow has received the statement of objections, but explained that the matter has become an on-going legal issue and the company cannot comment on such matters.
A spokesman for Polimeri Europa also confirmed the company has received the EC Statement, but in common with other recipients, said there was nothing more he could add.
A Michelin spokeswoman said the company is not aware of any letter from the EC relating to anti-trust activities in polybutadiene. She added that the company does not make BR at its plant in Bassens, France, though it does make the material in Louisville, USA. The spokeswoman added that Michelin does not sell its BR on the open market, but uses it internally, so there is no question of Michelin cooperating with other producers on pricing.
IISRP statistics say the following companies make polybutadiene rubber in Western Europe:
- Lanxess AG (previously Bayer AG)
- Dow (BSL)
- Polimeri Europa / Enichem
- Dynasol ElastÃ³meros (JV between Repsol and GIRSA)
Two plants in Russia: Voronezh and Efremov also make the material, which is used primarily in tyres and golf balls.
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AFX (Brussels) story (Via Forbes magazine)