Retail & Consumer

Belgium charges cigarette makers for exchanging information on prices

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Lucky Strike cigarettes are seen during the manufacturing process in the British American Tobacco Cigarette Factory (BAT) in Bayreuth, Germany, April 30, 2014. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle/File Photo

BRUSSELS, Oct 1 (Reuters) - The Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) said on Friday it had charged four cigarette companies with breaching competition law by exchanging information of future prices to wholesalers.

The authority said in a statement the companies were subsidiaries of Philip Morris (PM.N), Imperial Brands (IMB.L), Japan Tobacco (2914.T) and British American Tobacco (BATS.L), accounting for 90% of cigarette consumption in Belgium.

"The competition prosecutor alleges the existence of anti-competitive practices that lasted for several years and consisted in repeated exchanges of information on their future prices through wholesalers," the BCA said in an emailed statement.

It said that, through the wholesalers, they received information on the future prices of competitors.

A formal inquiry started in May 2017, followed by raids a month later as part of the investigation.

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Reporting by Marine Strauss @StraussMarine; editing by Philip Blenkinsop

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