Price fixing is an agreement between participants on the same side in a market to buy or sell a product, service, or commodity only at a fixed price, or maintain the market conditions such that the price is maintained at a given level by controlling supply and demand.
The intent of price fixing may be to push the price of a product as high as possible, generally leading to profits for all sellers but may also have the goal to fix, peg, discount, or stabilize prices. The defining characteristic of price fixing is any agreement regarding price, whether expressed or implied.
Price fixing requires a conspiracy between sellers or buyers. The purpose is to coordinate pricing for mutual benefit of the traders. For example, manufacturers and retailers may conspire to sell at a common "retail" price; set a common minimum sales price, where sellers agree not to discount the sales price below the agreed-to minimum price; buy the product from a supplier at a specified maximum price; adhere to a price book or list price; engage in cooperative price advertising; standardize financial credit terms offered to purchasers; use uniform trade-in allowances; limit discounts; discontinue a free service or fix the price of one component of an overall service; adhere uniformly to previously-announced prices and terms of sale; establish uniform costs and markups; impose mandatory surcharges; purposefully reduce output or sales in order to charge higher prices; or purposefully share or pool markets, territories, or customers.
In neo-classical economics, price fixing is inefficient. The anti-competitive agreement by producers to fix prices above the market price transfers some of the consumer surplus to those producers and also results in a deadweight loss.
International price fixing by private entities can be prosecuted under the antitrust laws of many countries. Examples of prosecuted international cartels are those that controlled the prices and output of lysine, citric acid, graphite electrodes, and bulk vitamins.
Criminal prosecutions must be handled by the U.S. Department of Justice, but the Federal Trade Commission also has jurisdiction for civil antitrust violations. Many state attorneys general also bring antitrust cases and have antitrust offices, such as Virginia, New York, and California.
Private individuals or organizations may file lawsuits for triple damages for antitrust violations and, depending on the law, recover attorneys fees and costs expended on prosecution of a case.
Under American law, exchanging prices among competitors can also violate the antitrust laws. That includes exchanging prices with the intent to fix prices or the exchange affecting the prices individual competitors set. Proof that competitors have shared prices can be used as part of the evidence of an illegal price fixing agreement. Experts generally advise that competitors avoid even the appearance of agreeing on price.
Since 1997, US courts have divided price fixing into two categories: vertical and horizontal maximum price fixing. Vertical price fixing includes a manufacturer's attempt to control the price of its product at retail. In State Oil Co. v. Khan, the US Supreme Court held that vertical price fixing is no longer considered a per se violation of the Sherman Act, but horizontal price fixing is still considered a breach of the Sherman Act. Also in 2008, the defendants of United States v LG Display Co., United States v. Chunghwa Picture Tubes, and United States v. Sharp Corporation, heard in the Northern District of California, agreed to pay a total sum of $585 million to settle their prosecutions for conspiring to fix prices of liquid crystal display panels. That was the second largest amount awarded under the Sherman Act in history.
In Canada, it is an indictable criminal offence under Section 45 of the Competition Act. Bid rigging is considered a form of price fixing and is illegal in both the United States (s.1 Sherman Act) and Canada (s.47 Competition Act). In the United States, agreements to fix, raise, lower, stabilize, or otherwise set a price are illegal per se. It does not matter if the price agreed upon is reasonable or for a good or altruistic cause or the agreement is unspoken and tacit. In the United States, price-fixing also includes agreements to hold prices the same, discount prices (even if based on financial need or income), set credit terms, agree on a price schedule or scale, adopt a common formula to figure prices, ban price advertising, or agree to adhere to prices that are announced.
Although price fixing usually means sellers agreeing on price, it can also include agreements among buyers to fix the price at which they will buy products.
Price fixing is illegal in Australia under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, with considerably similar prohibitions to the US and Canadian prohibitions. The Act is administered and enforced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Section 48 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) explicitly states, "A corporation shall not engage in the practise of resale price maintenance." A broader understanding of the statutory provision is in Section 96(3)of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth), which broadly defines what can be resale price maintenance.
New Zealand law prohibits price fixing, among most other anti-competitive behaviours under the Commerce Act 1986. The act covers practices similar to that of US and Canadian law, and it is enforced by the Commerce Commission.
British competition law prohibits almost any attempt to fix prices.
The Net Book Agreement was a public agreement between UK booksellers from 1900 to 1991 to sell new books only at the recommended retail price to protect the revenues of smaller bookshops. The agreement collapsed in 1991, when the large book chain Dillons began discounting books, followed by rival Waterstones.
However, price-fixing is still legal in the magazine and newspaper distribution industry. Retailers who sell at below cover price are subject to withdrawal of supply. The Office of Fair Trading has given its approval to the status quo.
When the agreement to control price is sanctioned by a multilateral treaty or is entered by sovereign nations as opposed to individual firms, the cartel may be protected from lawsuits and criminal antitrust prosecution. That is why OPEC, the global petroleum cartel, has not been prosecuted or successfully sued under US antitrust law.
Between 1995 and 2000 music companies were found to have used illegal marketing agreements such as minimum advertised pricing to artificially inflate prices of compact discs in order to end price wars by discounters such as Best Buy and Target in the early 1990s. It is estimated customers were overcharged by nearly $500 million and up to $5 per album. A settlement in 2002 included the music publishers and distributors; Sony Music, Warner Music, Bertelsmann Music Group, EMI Music, Universal Music as well as retailers Musicland, Trans World Entertainment and Tower Records. In restitution for price fixing they agreed to pay a $67.4 million fine distribute $75.7 million in CDs to public and non-profit groups.
In October 2005, the Korean company Samsung pleaded guilty to conspiring with other companies, including Infineon and Hynix Semiconductor, to fix the price of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips. Samsung was the third company to be charged in connection with the international cartel and was fined $300 million, the second largest antitrust penalty in US history.
In October 2004, four executives from Infineon, a German chip maker, received reduced sentences of 4 to 6 months in federal prison and $250,000 in fines after agreeing to aid the U.S. Department of Justice with their ongoing investigation of the conspiracy.
In March 2018, the European Commission fined eight firms, mostly Japanese companies, €254 million for operating an illegal price cartel for capacitors. The two largest players were Nippon Chemi-Con which was fined €98 million and Hitachi Chemical which was fined €18 million.
In 2006, the government of France fined 13 perfume brands and three vendors for price collusion between 1997 and 2000. The brands include L'Oréal (4.1mil euro), Pacific Creation Perfumes (90,000 euro), Chanel, LVMH's Sephora (9.4mil euro) and Hutchison Whampoa's Marionnaud (12.8mil euro).
In 2008 in the US, LG Display Co., Chunghwa Picture Tubes and Sharp Corp., agreed to plead guilty and pay $585 million in criminal fines for conspiring to fix prices of liquid crystal display panels.
South Korea–based LG Display would pay $400 million, the second-highest criminal fine that the US Justice Department antitrust division has ever imposed. Chunghwa would pay $65 million for conspiring with LG Display and other unnamed companies and Sharp would pay $120 million, according to the department.
In 2010, the EU fined LG Display €215 million for its part in the LCD price fixing scheme. Other companies were fined for a combined total of €648.9 million, including Chimei Innolux, AU Optronics, Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd., and HannStar Display Corp.. LG Display said it is considering appealing the fine.
In late 2005/early 2006, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic came forward about their involvement in large price-fixing schemes for cargo and passenger surcharges in which 21 airlines were involved since 2000 (amongst which were British Airways, Korean Air, and Air France-KLM). U.S. Department of Justice fined the airlines a total of $1.7 billion, charged 19 executives with wrongdoing and four received prison terms.
In December 2008, the New Zealand Commerce Commission filed legal proceedings against 13 airlines in the New Zealand High Court. According to the Commission, the carriers "colluded to raise the price of [freight] by imposing fuel charges for more than seven years". In 2013 Air New Zealand was the final airline of the 13 to settle.
The Commission noted that it might involve up to 60 airlines. In 2009 the Commission said overseas competition authorities were also investigating the air cargo market, including the US and Australia where fines had been imposed.
Economic liberals believe that price fixing is a voluntary and consensual activity between parties that should be free from government compulsion and government interference. At times price fixing ensures a stable market for both consumers and producers. Any short term benefit of increased price competition will force some producers out of the market and cause product shortages and prices for consumers to rise. In the end price-fixing legislation forces producers out of a market because it can't compete with the biggest discounter and the market winds up a monopoly anyway. 
AGC Glass Europe is an international glass manufacturing group based in Louvain-la-Neuve, and the European branch of the AGC group (Asahi Glass Co., Ltd).
AGC Glass Europe currently employs some 14,500 people. Its industrial facilities comprise 18 float glass lines, 10 automotive glass processing centres and more than 100 distribution-processing units in Europe, stretching from Spain to Russia.AGC Inc.
AGC Inc. (AGC株式会社, AGC Kabushiki-gaisha), formerly Asahi Glass Co., Ltd., is a Japanese global glass manufacturing company, headquartered in Tokyo. It is the largest glass company in the world and one of the core Mitsubishi companies.
The company is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the TOPIX and Nikkei 225 stock indices.
Asahi Glass was named one of Thomson Reuters Top 100 Global Innovators in 2013.Archer Daniels Midland
The Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) is an American global food processing and commodities trading corporation, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. The company operates more than 270 plants and 420 crop procurement facilities worldwide, where cereal grains and oilseeds are processed into products used in food, beverage, nutraceutical, industrial, and animal feed markets worldwide.
It was named the world's most-admired food-production company by Fortune magazine for three consecutive years: 2009, 2010 and 2011. ADM ranked No. 48 in the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.The company also provides agricultural storage and transportation services. The American River Transportation Company along with ADM Trucking, Inc., are subsidiaries of ADM.Bertelsmann Music Group
Bertelsmann Music Group (abbreviated as BMG) was a division of German media company Bertelsmann before its completion of sale of the majority of its assets to Japan's Sony Corporation of America on 1 October 2008. Although it was established in 1987, the music company was formed as RCA/Ariola International in 1984 as a joint venture to combine the music label activities of RCA Corporation's RCA Records division and Bertelsmann's Ariola Records and its associated labels which include Arista Records. It consisted of the BMG Music Publishing company, the world's third largest music publisher and the world's largest independent music publisher, and (since August 2004) the 50% share of the joint venture with Sony Music Entertainment, which established the German American Sony BMG Music Entertainment (Sony BMG) from 2004 to 2008.Cartel
A cartel is a group of apparently independent producers whose goal is to increase their collective profits by means of price fixing, limiting supply, or other restrictive practices. Cartels typically control selling prices, but some are organized to control the prices of purchased inputs. Antitrust laws attempt to deter or forbid cartels. A single entity that holds a monopoly by this definition cannot be a cartel, though it may be guilty of abusing said monopoly in other ways. Cartels usually occur in oligopolies, where there are a small number of sellers and usually involve homogeneous products.
In general, cartels can be divided into domestic and international agreements. Export cartels constitute a special case of international cartels. Unlike other cartels they are legal in virtually all jurisdictions, despite their harmful effects on affected markets.Bid rigging is a special type of cartel.Christie's
Christie's is a British auction house. It was founded in 1766 by James Christie. Its main premises are on King Street, St James's, in London and in the Rockefeller Center in New York City. The company is owned by Groupe Artémis, the holding company of François-Henri Pinault. Sales in 2015 totalled £4.8 billion (US$7.4 billion). In 2017 the Salvator Mundi was sold for $450.3 million at Christie's, and which at that time was the highest price ever paid for a single painting at an auction.Danish Christmas Tree Growers Association
The Danish Christmas Tree Association is a trade association in Denmark which represents the growers of natural Christmas trees.Heineken N.V.
Heineken N.V. (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɦɛinəkə(n)]; at times self-styled as HEINEKEN) is a Dutch brewing company, founded in 1864 by Gerard Adriaan Heineken in Amsterdam. As of 2017, Heineken owns over 165 breweries in more than 70 countries. It produces 250 international, regional, local and speciality beers and ciders and employs approximately 73,000 people.Heineken's Dutch breweries are located in Zoeterwoude, 's-Hertogenbosch and Wijlre. The original brewery in Amsterdam, closed in 1988, is preserved as a museum called Heineken Experience.
Since the merger between the two largest brewing empires in the world, Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller, in October 2016, Heineken has been the second largest brewer in the world.Hoffmann-La Roche
F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG is a Swiss multinational healthcare company that operates worldwide under two divisions: Pharmaceuticals and Diagnostics. Its holding company, Roche Holding AG, has bearer shares listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange. The company headquarters are located in Basel.
The company controls the American biotechnology company Genentech, which is a wholly owned affiliate, and the Japanese biotechnology company Chugai Pharmaceuticals, as well as the United States-based Ventana. Roche's revenues during fiscal year 2018 were 56.85 billion Swiss francs, or approximately US$57 billion. Roche is the third-largest pharmaceutical company worldwide.
Descendants of the founding Hoffmann and Oeri families own slightly over half of the bearer shares with voting rights (a pool of family shareholders 45%, and Maja Oeri a further 5% apart), with Swiss pharma firm Novartis owning a further third of its shares. Roche is one of the few companies increasing their dividend every year, for 2018 as the 32nd consecutive year. F. Hoffmann-La Roche is a full member of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).LG Display
LG Display (Korean: LG 디스플레이) is the world's largest LCD panel maker. LG Display is one of the world's largest manufacturer and supplier of thin-film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) panels, OLEDs and flexible displays. LG Display is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, and currently operates nine fabrication facilities and seven back-end assembly facilities in Korea, China, Poland and Mexico.Loblaws
Loblaws Inc. is a Canadian supermarket chain with stores located in the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. Headquartered in Brampton, Ontario, Loblaws is a subsidiary of Loblaw Companies Limited, Canada's largest food distributor.Lysine price-fixing conspiracy
The lysine price-fixing conspiracy was an organized effort during the mid-1990s to raise the price of the animal feed additive lysine. It involved five companies that had commercialized high-tech fermentation technologies, including American company Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Japanese companies Ajinomoto and Kyowa Hakko Kogyo, and Korean companies Sewon America Inc. and Cheil Jedang Ltd. A criminal investigation resulted in fines and three-year prison sentences for three executives of ADM who colluded with the other companies to fix prices. The foreign companies settled with the United States Department of Justice Antitrust Division in September through December 1996. Each firm and four executives from the Asian firms pleaded guilty as part of a plea bargain to aid in further investigation against ADM. The cartel had been able to raise lysine prices 70% within their first nine months of cooperation.The investigation yielded $105 million in criminal fines, a record antitrust penalty at the time, including a $70 million fine against ADM. ADM was fined an additional $30 million for its participation in a separate conspiracy in the citric acid market and paid a total fine of $100 million. Three former high-ranking ADM executives were convicted in September 1998 after a ten-week jury trial. Buyers of lysine in the United States and Canada sued and recovered $80 to $100 million in damages from the five cartel members, and ADM paid $38 million to settle mismanagement suits by its shareholders.The lysine cartel was the first successful prosecution of an international cartel by the U.S. Department of Justice in more than 40 years. Since then, the DoJ has discovered and prosecuted scores of international cartels.Mark Whitacre
Mark Edward Whitacre (born May 1, 1957) is an American business executive who came to public attention in 1995 when, as president of the Decatur, Illinois-based BioProducts Division at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), he became the highest-level corporate executive in U.S. history to become a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) whistleblower. For three years (1992–95), Whitacre acted as an informant for the FBI, which was investigating ADM for price fixing. In the late 1990s Whitacre was sentenced to 9 years in federal prison for embezzling $9.5 million from ADM at the same time he was assisting the federal price-fixing investigation.ADM investigated Whitacre's activities and, upon discovering suspicious activity, requested the FBI investigate Whitacre for embezzlement. As a result of $9.5 million in various frauds, Whitacre lost his whistleblower's immunity, and consequently spent eight-and-a-half years in federal prison. He was released in December 2006. Whitacre is currently the chief operating officer and President of Operations at Cypress Systems, a California biotechnology firm.Operation Wasteland
Operation Wasteland was an undercover investigation into organized crime control of the waste disposal industry in New York City.
The investigation resulted in the indictment and conviction of over one hundred participants in price-fixing and bid rigging of waste hauling contracts in the city.
The story is detailed in the book, Takedown, the Fall of the Last Mafia Empire, by Detective Rick Cowan and co-author Douglas Century, and in Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage by Heather Rogers.SK Hynix
SK Hynix Inc. (KRX: 000660) is a South Korean memory semiconductor supplier of dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) chips and flash memory chips. Hynix is the world's second-largest memory chipmaker (after Samsung Electronics) and the world's 3rd-largest semiconductor company. Founded as Hyundai Electronic Industrial Co., Ltd. in 1983 and known as Hyundai Electronics, the company has manufacturing sites in Korea, the United States, China and Taiwan. In 2012, when SK Telecom became its major shareholder, Hynix merged to SK Group (the third largest conglomerate in South Korea). The company's shares are traded on the Korea Stock Exchange, and the Global Depository shares are listed on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange.
Hynix memory is used by Apple in some of their iMac, MacBook and MacBook Pro computers. Apple's A9 chipset is onboard together with an SK Hynix RAM module believed to be "likely the same 2 GB LPDDR4 mobile DRAM found in the iPhone 6s". Hynix memory is also used by Asus in their Google-branded Nexus 7 tablet (both 2012 and 2013 models), an OEM provider for IBM System x servers, and is used in desktop PCs and laptops as well as the Asus Eee PC, Dell, HP Inc., and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (formerly Hewlett-Packard) have also used Hynix memory as OEM equipment. Other products that use Hynix memory include DVD players, cellular phones, set-top boxes, personal digital assistants, networking equipment, and hard disk drives.Sotheby's
Sotheby's is a British-founded American multinational corporation headquartered in New York City. One of the world's largest brokers of fine and decorative art, jewelry, real estate, and collectibles, Sotheby's operation is divided into three segments: auction, finance, and dealer. The company's services range from corporate art services to private sales. It is named after one of its cofounders, John Sotheby.
Sotheby's is the world's fourth oldest auction house in continuous operation, with 90 locations in 40 countries. As of December 2011, the company had 1,446 employees worldwide. It is the world's largest art business with global sales in 2011 totalling $5.8 billion.Sotheby's was established on 11 March 1744 in London. The American holding company was initially incorporated in August 1983 in Michigan. In June 2006, Sotheby's Holdings, Inc. reincorporated in the State of Delaware and was renamed Sotheby's. In July 2016, Chinese insurance company Taikang Life became Sotheby's largest shareholder.Steel Dynamics
Steel Dynamics, Inc., sometimes abbreviated as "SDI", is a steel producer based in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
With a production capacity of 11.35 million tons, Steel Dynamics is the 3rd largest producer of carbon steel products in the United States. SDI is among the most profitable American steel companies in terms of profit margins and operating profit per ton.The company is ranked 312th on the Fortune 500.ThyssenKrupp
thyssenkrupp AG is a German multinational conglomerate with focus on industrial engineering and steel production. The company is based in Duisburg and Essen and divided into 670 subsidiaries worldwide. It is one of the world's largest steel producers; it was ranked tenth-largest worldwide by revenue in 2015. The company is the result of the 1999 merger of Thyssen AG and Krupp, and now has its operational headquarters in Essen. The largest shareholders are Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation and Cevian Capital.In addition to steel production, Thyssenkrupp's products range from machines and industrial services to high-speed trains, elevators and shipbuilding. Subsidiary Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems also manufactures frigates, corvettes and submarines for the German and foreign navies.YKK
The YKK Group (YKKグループ, Waikeikei Gurūpu) is a Japanese group of manufacturing companies. As the world's largest zipper manufacturer, YKK Group is most known for making zippers; however, it also manufactures other fastening products, architectural products, plastic hardware and industrial machinery.
The initials YKK stand for Yoshida Kōgyō Kabushiki gaisha (吉田工業株式会社, lit. "Yoshida Manufacturing Corporation"), which was the name of the company from 1945 until 1994. YKK produces fasteners and architectural products at 109 YKK facilities in 71 countries worldwide.