March 24, 2009 2:00 am

Brussels charges Akzo Nobel

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Brussels has formally charged a group of companies, including Holland's Akzo Nobel, with allegedly running a cartel in the market for heat stabilisers. These are added to PVC products to improve thermal resistance, rigidity, transparency and to protect against discolouring.

The European Commission said yesterday that a statement of objections had been sent to a number of companies. It did not name the groups.

Akzo Nobel confirmed that it had been among the recipients, in respect of its former heat stabilisers business, although it said the allegations related to possible conduct before 2001. "Akzo Nobel is analysing the statement of objections and will prepare its defence," it added.

The charges appear to stem from raids that took place in 2003, when commission officials carried out random inspections of 14 companies in an investigation into two suspected agreements in the plastics sector.

Companies involved can present a defence to the commission but face fines if the complaint is upheld.

Nikki Tait, Brussels

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