• Kyodo

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The antitrust watchdog of the European Union on Tuesday fined Germany’s Degussa AG and Japanese chemical maker Nippon Soda Co. for price-fixing activities linked to a key animal feed ingredient known as methionine.

The European Commission said it has ordered Degussa to pay 118 million euros and Nippon Soda 9 million euros but has granted France’s Aventis SA immunity because it lifted the lid on the cartel’s existence and provided proof of the unlawful operations.

The commission said executives of the three companies met to fix minimum prices and coordinate price increases between 1986 and 1999, in violation of EU antitrust rules.

Methionine is a protein substitute added mainly to poultry and pig feed.

The methionine market for the 18-nation European Economic Area was worth 260 million euros a year during the cartel’s run, the European Commission said.

The EEA consists of the 15-nation EU plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Nippon Soda has issued a statement in which it expressed regret that the European Commission has accused it of being involved in the cartel, adding that it will carefully consider how to handle the order.

The Tokyo-based firm incurred a one-time loss of 2 billion yen from legal expenses related to the cartel case in fiscal 2001.

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