RPT-Eye glass companies cut prices in China after regulator probe -report

Fri May 9, 2014 5:11am EDT

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HONG KONG May 9 (Reuters) - Leading eye glass makers operating in China have cut prices by as much as 30 percent following an investigation by the country's price regulator, the official Securities Times newspaper reported on Friday.

The National Reform and Development Commission (NRDC) launched the investigation in August as part of a wider probe into industries it deemed earned excessive profit.

Other industries investigated for pricing include the milk powder industry which resulted in $110 million in fines for Mead Johnson Nutrition Co, Danone and Fonterra .

Foreign companies in China are getting increasingly jumpy about antitrust and corruption investigations and are hiring lawyers to make sure their operations comply with the law.

The latest investigation involves several international lens manufacturers, the Securities Times reported.

The newspaper named the U.S.'s Bausch & Lomb Inc and Johnson & Johnson, Japan's Hoya Corp and Nikon Corp, France's Essilor International Compagnie Generale d'Optique and Germany's Carl Zeiss Meditec AG .

Bausch & Lomb said in a notice on its Chinese website dated May 1 that it would cut prices of three types of contact lens by 10 percent to 15 percent to "reward customer support". The company, whose announcement did not mention the probe, did not respond to telephone calls from Reuters seeking comment.

Hoya also said on its website on April 30 that it would lower the price of entry level products by more than 10 percent "in line with customer purchasing power". The company, who also did not reference the NRDC, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Essilor plans to cut prices by as much as 30 percent, the Securities Times reported. Neither Essilor nor Zeiss could be reached for comment outside European working hours.

Nikon in China was not immediately available for comment, and Johnson & Johnson did not immediately respond to telephone calls or an email.

Officials at NDRC could not immediately be reached for comment. (Reporting by Alice Woodhouse; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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