Business

Three Japanese can-makers to face antitrust fines

JIJI

The Fair Trade Commission plans to fine three major domestic can-makers a total of about ¥25 billion for fixing prices for cans used for beer and other beverages in violation of the antimonopoly law, informed sources said Tuesday.

The antitrust watchdog has notified Toyo Seikan Co., Universal Can Corp. and Hokkaican Co. of the plan, the sources said. It also plans to order them to take measures to prevent similar wrongdoing, they added. It will make a final decision after collecting opinions from the firms.

The FTC will fine Toyo some ¥12 billion, Universal over ¥10 billion and Hokkaican several billions of yen, the sources said.

The agency also recognized the involvement of Daiwa Can Co. in the price-fixing, but the firm is unlikely to face any penalty as it voluntarily reported the misconduct, the sources said.

The four firms, all based in Tokyo, conspired to raise can prices at a time when raw materials prices had surged and to prearrange contract winners, the sources said.

Toyo, Daiwa and Universal were involved in the price-fixing of aluminum cans, and Toyo, Daiwa and Hokkaican were for steel cans, the sources said.

The four companies together have a majority share of the market for beverage cans, which is worth several hundred billion yen. They apparently aimed to secure profits in the face of decreased shipments.

The FTC conducted on-site inspections at the four firms in February last year. Toyo, Daiwa and Hokkaican are also suspected of rigging bids for cans used for canned food, the sources said.

Universal and the parent firms of Toyo and Hokkaican said in statements that they would consider responses after receiving explanations from the FTC about evidence of the wrongdoing.