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Commission Slaps Hoechst with Fine for Price-fixing

The European Commission said on Wednesday it had fined the former German chemicals maker Hoechst AG €99 million ($115.5 million) for its participation in a price-fixing cartel for food preservatives. Hoechst, which is now part of the German-French pharmaceuticals concern Aventis, and four Japanese stand accused of meeting twice a year from 1979 to 1996 to set prices for sorbates, which are used to prevent bacteria in food and cosmetics. "Because of this conspiracy European consumers paid more for many everyday products than if the companies had competed against each other," Competition Commissioner Mario Monti said, according to the Reuters news agency.