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Germany To Fine Cosmetics Firms

Antitrust watchdog said Thursday it would fine a number of cosmetics and perfume companies for collusion and price-fixing.

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- Germany's antitrust watchdog said Thursday it would fine a number of cosmetics and perfume companies for collusion and price-fixing.

The Federal Cartel Office said it would impose fines totaling nearly 10 million euros ($15.7 million) on companies including the German subsidiaries of Chanel S.A, Clarins, Coty Inc.'s Coty Prestige Lancaster, The Estee Lauder Companies Inc., L'Oreal S.A., LVMH Perfumes and cosmetics, Shiseido Co. and PPR S.A.'s YSL Beaute.

The agency said in a statement that it had found the companies shared a variety of information with each other since 1995, including on sales figures, advertising expenditures, planned product launches, prices and product returns.

The cartel office called the actions a systematic exchange between the manufacturers that restricted competition and violated German and European antitrust laws.

L'Oreal signaled that it would appeal the cartel office's decision, rejecting the office's claims that it had participated in the collusion.

Martin Ruppmann, the director of the VKE-Cosmetics Association industry group, called for more "legal certainty" regarding the language on what sort of communication between competing companies is permissible.

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