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Business

Mercedes pays fine for China price-fixing

German carmaker Mercedes has said it accepts the decision by Chinese authorities to fine the company for price-fixing. Regulators there had accused the Daimler subsidiary of charging too much for spare parts.

Chinese regulators confirmed Thursday they had slapped a fine of 350 million yuan (53 million euros, $56 million) on Mercedes Benz, on charges of price-fixing in a wide-ranging probe of the auto industry.

The German carmaker was punished for violating anti-monopoly laws by enforcing minimum prices dealers were required to charge for vehicles and replacement parts, according to the pricing policy office in the eastern province of Jiangsu.

Setting such minimum prices is common and legal in many other nations, but Chinese regulators reject it as a violation of free market competition.

Wider government campaign

"Mercedes Benz China accepts the decision made and does everything in its power to adhere to competition rules on the ground," the German auto maker said in a statement.

Chinese news agency Xinhua said as early as September that prices charged by Mercedes for replacement parts were so high that purchasing the parts used to make one C-class car would cost the equivalent of 12 vehicles.

Industry experts said the fine came as part of a wider crackdown by Chinese officials on unfair competition activities by both foreign and domestic companies. But business groups have criticized that often secretive and abrupt way the investigations are conducted.

hg/ng (dpa, Reuters)

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