Italy’s antitrust authority imposes cartel fines of €287m

Photo: AGCM

Recently, Italy’s Antitrust Authority concluded an investigation, finding that two separate agreements had been implemented to distort the competitive dynamics in the market for corrugated cardboard sheets and the market for corrugated cardboard packaging respectively, in breach of Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

The agreements involved the main companies that manufacture corrugated cardboard sheets and packaging, as well as the relevant trade association Gruppo Italiano Fabbricanti Cartone Ondulato (GIFCO), which were fined a total of over 287 million euros.

The preliminary investigation was initiated following a report from the trade association of non-vertically integrated box manufacturers (ACIS) and the submission of a leniency application by the DS Smith group companies. After the commencement of the proceedings, the companies Ondulati Nordest S.p.A., Scatolificio Idealkart S.r.l. and the companies of the Pro-Gest group also applied for leniency.

In particular, with regard to the market for the production and marketing of corrugated cardboard sheets, the Authority has ascertained that the companies Pro-Gest S.p.A., Cartonstrong Italia S.r.l., Ondulato Trevigiano S.r.l., Ondulati Maranello S.p.A., Plurionda S.p.A., Laveggia S.r.l., Scatolificio Laveggia S.p.A., Ondulati Santerno S.p.A., DS Smith Holding Italia S.p.A., DS Smith Packaging Italia S.p.A., Smurfit Kappa Italia S.p.A., Innova Group S.p.A., Innova Group Stabilimento di Caino S.r.l., Adda Ondulati Società per Azioni, Imballaggi Piemontesi S.r.l., Ondulati Nordest S.p.A., Ondulati and Imballaggi del Friuli S.p.A., Ondulato Piceno S.r.l., ICOM S.p.A., Ondulati del Savio S.r.l., as well as the trade association GIFCO, have established a single, complex and continuous infringement between 2004 and 2017, to fix sales prices and production plant downtime shut-downs. In view of the severity and duration of the infringement, the Authority imposed a total fine of approximately €110 million on these undertakings.

Under its leniency programme, the Authority also granted full immunity from fines to DS Smith group companies which, as first leniency applicants, avoided the imposition of fines in excess of EUR 70 million. In addition, also in application of the leniency programme, the Authority attributed the benefit of a 50% and 40% reduction in the fine to subsequent leniency applicants - Ondulati Nordest S.p.A. and the companies in the Pro-Gest group - respectively.

As regards the market for the production and marketing of corrugated cardboard packaging, the Authority found that Smurfit Kappa Italia S.p.A., DS Smith Holding Italia S.p.A., DS Smith Packaging Italia S.p.A., Toscana Ondulati S.p.A., International Paper Italia S.r.l., Sandra S.p.A., Saica Pack Italia S.p.A., Mauro Benedetti S.p.A., Ondulati ed Imballaggi del Friuli S.p.A., Scatolificio Idealkart S.r.l., Laveggia S.r.l., Scatolificio Laveggia S.p.A., Alliabox Italia S.p.A., Innova Group S.p.A., Innova Group - Stabilimento di Caino S.r.l., Toppazzini S.p.A., Sada Partecipazioni S.r.l., Antonio Sada & Figli S.p.A., ICO Industria Cartone Ondulato S.r.l., ICOM S.p.A., Grimaldi S.p.A., Ondulato Piceno S.r.l., MS Packaging S.r.l., Pro-Gest S.p.A., Trevikart S.r.l., Ondulati Maranello S.p.A., as well as the trade association GIFCO, established a single, complex and continous agreement between 2005 and 2017, to share the market and jointly define sales prices and other commercial parameters, such as payment terms. In view of the severity and duration of the infringement, the Authority imposed a total fine of approximately EUR 178 million on these undertakings.

Again, the Authority recognised the benefit of full immunity from the fine in favour of DS Smith group which, as the first leniency applicant, avoided the imposition of a fine exceeding EUR 70 million. In addition, as part of the leniency programme, a reduction of 50% and 40% was granted to subsequent leniency applicants - Scatolificio Idealkart S.r.l. and the companies of the Pro-Gest group - respectively.

During the proceedings, the Authority was supported by the Special Antitrust Unit of the Italian Finance Police.