Salmon’s ‘big six’ to challenge EU price fixing claims

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Norway’s “big six” salmon companies have all strongly denied an accusation of price collusion made by the European Commission.

The Commission claimed yesterday that the companies broke competition rules by sharing information on prices and salmon volumes. It has sent what is known a statement of objection, also known as an SO, to each of the six.

A final decision on the claims is expected later this year but the companies have all come out fighting.

The accused are Mowi, SalMar, Lerøy, Grieg, Cermaq and Bremnes.

Lerøy said it was dedicated to ensuring compliance with relevant competition law and always competes vigorously to offer customers the best products and terms.

It pointed out that the SO is not a final decision and has been issued in accordance with the Commission’s ordinary procedures for such an investigation.

Mowi said the Statement of Objections was not a final decision, but rather the Commission’s preliminary view that the companies under investigation may have breached EU competition rules.

“Mowi contests the Commission’s preliminary view and the characteristics of the alleged behaviour in the market for farmed Norwegian Atlantic salmon, and strongly believes there has been no infringement of the competition rules,” it added.

Mowi will now carefully review the Commission’s statement and reply in writing.

Grieg Seafood said it will examine the Statement of Objections carefully and continue to fully cooperate with the Commission’s investigation.

“Grieg Seafood ASA denies any anti-trust infringements or anti-competitive behaviour by it or any of its subsidiaries,” it said.

SalMar said it had co-operated with the Commission throughout and strongly disagrees with its preliminary assessment and will account for its view in a thorough reply to the Commission.

Similar statements and denials have been issued by Cermaq and Bremnes.

Last year five of the companies (Mowi, Leroy, Cermaq, SalMar and Grieg) settled broadly similar price fixing accusations in the United States and Canada at a cost of several million dollars, while continuing to strongly maintain they were not guilty.

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