€287m of fines issued to major players

It has been reported that the investigation into Italy's corrugated cartel has now been concluded.

Italy's Antitrust Authority - AGCM - issued around €287m in fines to more than 30 companies for price-fixing. Smurfit Kappa was hit the hardest while DS Smith managed to avoid fines by offering information to the AGCM before they began their investigations.

In its report that was released on 7th August, the AGCM said that some companies had engaged in anti-competitive discussions for over a decade, showing how extensive the price-fixing had been. The report also suggested that the Italian corrugated trade association - GIFCO - had been involved in the collaborations. 

The companies involved are accused of having coordinated their sales prices for corrugated sheets between February 2004 and March 2017 and colluding to schedule their production downtime in order to effect price increases. For these activities, AGCM imposed fines of €110m.

In terms of converted corrugated board, the report said the integrated companies also fixed prices and conditions between September 2005 and March 2017 and divided up the market amongst themselves. The companies were fined a total of €178m in this sector.

Smurfit Kappa has been fined the most, and ordered to pay €124m. The company said it was disappointed with the decision and said it would appeal the verdict.

However, DS Smith escaped the fines because it had filed a request for leniency before the investigation began. As the first leniency applicant, DS Smith was granted full immunity, saving a fine of €140m. 

Once the investigation had begun,Ondulati Nordest, Idealkart and Pro-Gest came forward, asking for leniency. As a subsequent leniency applicant, Pro-Gest was able to reduce its fines by 40% to €48m and the two other companies had their fines halved.