Competition chiefs in India have reduced heavy fines slapped on some of the country’s leading zinc-carbon dry cell battery manufacturers following a price-fixing probe.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) had levied penalties on Eveready Industries India, Indo National (Nippo) and Panasonic Energy India— in addition to the Association of Indian Dry Cell Manufacturers (AIDCM)— “for colluding to fix prices of zinc-carbon dry cell batteries”.
The fines on Eveready and Nippo have now been reduced by 30% and 20% respectively, but still add up to a total of around INR1.72 billion ($25.7 million) and about INR423m ($6.3m). The reductions were granted in view of the firms’ cooperation during the CCI’s probe.
However, the CCI said Panasonic would not be fined anything because it had alerted authorities as soon as it had become aware of the existence of the cartel— which in turn triggered the CCI’s investigation.
The CCI said it conducted “search and seize” raids on the premises of all three manufacturers in August 2016 as part of its investigations.
According to the CCI, evidence collected showed the three manufacturers, “facilitated by AIDCM, had indulged in anti-competitive conduct of price coordination, limiting production/supply as well as market allocation in contravention” between 2008 and August 2016.
The AIDCM was fined at the rate of 10% of the average of its gross receipts for the last preceding three financial years.
None of the firms involved had responded to BBB’s requests for comment on the CCI ruling at the time of going to press.
Industry observers in India say the CCI’s tough stance is seen as necessary in burnishing the country’s credentials as a future key batteries player in the region.
BBB reported last week that India’s government is planning a policy shake-up to “incentivise” battery manufacturing in the country— including possible laws to ensure only batteries produced in the country are used for government contracts related to the expanding EVs and energy storage market.