The Dutch Competition Authority fines a cigarette manufacturer for hub-and-spoke cartel (British American Tobacco International / JT International Company Netherlands / Philip Morris / Van Nelle Tabak Nederland)

On 27 May 2020, the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets ("ACM") imposed a fine of € 82 million on four cigarette manufacturers for indirect information exchanges in violation of Article 101 TFEU and 6 Dutch Competition Act. It is the first fine ACM has given for indirect information exchanges between competitors. The manufacturers exchanged information, through wholesalers among other channels, about future prices of cigarette packs over a three-year period (2008-2011). Such a practice is also known as a Hub-and-Spoke cartel and is forbidden. The manufacturers indirectly exchanged information and also used so called ‘trial balloons’. The decision is noteworthy for at least three reasons: It is one of the few cases in which both a Hub-and-Spoke cartel and trial balloons occur; It

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