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OFT accuses Mercedes-Benz of breaking competition rules‎

London, UK: The Office of Fair Trading has alleged that Mercedez-Benz and five of its truck and van dealerships in the north of England and Wales have infringed competition law.

The OFT has named five dealers of Mercedes-Benz trucks and vans which it alleges broke competition rules five times between March, 2007 and January, 2010.

They are: Warrington-based Enza Motors, which has four branches including Trafford Park and Newton Heath, east Manchester. Blackburn-based Ciceley Commercials, which has four branches including Bolton. H & L Garages, which had seven branches in Yorkshire and ceased trading in 2011. Bradford-based Northside Truck & Van, which has seven branches in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. Liverpool-based Road Range, which has one branch in Wavertree.

The exact nature of the alleged infringements varied, but all contained an element of market sharing, price co-ordination and/or exchange of commercially sensitive information. The OFT said its evidence also suggested that, in respect of two of the alleged infringements, Mercedes-Benz helped to facilitate or consolidate the arrangements amongst the dealers.

Ali Nikpay, the OFT’s senior director of cartels, said: “Based on the evidence currently before us, we have reason to believe that these dealers co-operated to limit competition in their areas.

“This case, which involves dealers who are mainly active in areas within the north of England and parts of Wales and Scotland, shows the OFT’s commitment to pursuing allegations of serious competition law infringements irrespective of the size of the companies involved or the geographic scope of the case.

“These are the OFT’s provisional findings only. All parties will now have a full opportunity to respond to our statement before we decide whether competition law has in fact been infringed.”

Each alleged infringement involved two or three dealers. Three of the alleged infringements concern vans and two concern trucks.