China fines baby formula firms $137 million for price-fixing: Xinhua
BEIJING - China has fined six mostly foreign baby formula companies a total of US$108 million (S$137 million) for price-fixing, the official Xinhua news agency reported Wednesday.
The firms fined were Mead Johnson and Abbott from the US, Dumex, a subsidiary of France's Danone, Friesland of the Netherlands, New Zealand giant Fonterra - at the centre of a health scare this week - and China's Biostime, Xinhua said, citing the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
In a corporate statement, Mead Johnson said it had been handed a penalty of 204 million yuan (S$42 million).
Biostime said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange that it had been given a 163 million yuan fine.
Fonterra, which has had to recall products in several countries this week over a botulism scare, was fined 4.5 million yuan, it said.
It cooperated fully with Chinese authorities and accepted their decision, it said.
"The investigation leaves us with a much clearer understanding of expectations around implementing pricing policies which is useful as we progress our future business plans," Fonterra's president for Greater China and India, Kelvin Wickham, said in a statement.
He added that Fonterra's fine was "in the lowest range" of the penalties handed out.
The NDRC, China's top economic planner, launched the investigation into high prices it said resulted from a monopoly-like situation, mostly targeting overseas firms. Several of them announced price cuts last month.
Xinhua said that three companies - Wyeth, which is owned by Swiss giant Nestle, Japan's Meiji, and Chinese firm Beingmate - had been exempted from punishment in the inquiry.
The NDRC said they provided important evidence and carried out active self-rectification, it added.