Competition Commission probing collusion by auto-component manufacturers

OCTOBER 13, 2014

The Competition Commission on Monday said it was investigating collusion by car-component manufacturers including Hitachi Ltd. and Mitsubishi Electric Corp. of Japan after one supplier turned whistle-blower.

“One of the component manufacturers has approached us, saying that it’s been involved in collusion, price fixing, in contravention of the Competition Act,” Mava Scott, spokesman for the commission, told Bloomberg.

He said that the company that came forward asked for immunity.

South Africa joins the European Union in conducting a probe on alleged collusion in the car-component industry that EU Antitrust Commissioner Joaquin Almunia has described as one of the largest cartel investigations ever conducted.

More than 80 car-part manufacturers may have colluded in respect of the supply of 121 components since 2000, the Pretoria-based Competition Commission said. Affected carmakers include Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co and Honda Motor Co.

“The Commission will prioritize the investigation of cases that involve automotive components that are in vehicles assembled in and supplied to the South African market,” Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele also said.

The probes will cover price fixing, market division and collusive tendering, he said.

South African vehicle exports rose 8.2 percent to 102.7 billion rand (US$9.3 billion) last year, according to the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa.

Spare-part exports increased 5.6 percent to 42.2 billion rand. International carmakers including Toyota and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG operate factories in Africa’s second biggest economy.

“It’s not appropriate for me to make any comments,” Robert Houdet, executive director at the National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers in South Africa, said by phone. “Let the Competition Commission make its inquiry.”