(Adds details on complaint)
WASHINGTON, March 27 Two key propane suppliers,
Blue Rhino and AmeriGas, illegally coordinated in 2008 by
reducing the amount of propane in tanks from 17 pounds to 15
pounds without cutting the price, U.S. authorities said in an
administrative complaint filed against the companies.
The two companies controlled about 80 percent of the market
for wholesale propane exchange tanks at the time, the Federal
Trade Commission said in a press release.
Walmart, the largest U.S. retailer, which bought
from both companies, balked at what was effectively a price
hike, the FTC said.
In response, sales executives from both companies spoke by
telephone and emailed each other repeatedly over several months
to strategize on how to force Walmart to accept its actions, the
"This type of collusion may not be direct or visible to
consumers, but can lead to higher prices or lower quality," said
Deborah Feinstein, director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition.
The agency filed an administrative complaint against the
companies, alleging a civil violation of antitrust laws.
The companies are Ferrellgas Partners, L.P and
Ferrellgas, L.P., which do business as Blue Rhino,
and UGI Corp and AmeriGas Partners, L.P., which
do business as AmeriGas Cylinder Exchange.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Ros Krasny and Sandra