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Competition Commission seeks price-fixing fine for Unilever

It found that between 2004 and 2013, Unilever and Sime Darbys agreed not to compete with each other on certain pack sizes of margarine and edible oils.

Unilever logo. Picture: Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's competition watchdog recommended a fine equivalent to 10% of Unilever's local turnover for price fixing of edible oils and margarine, it said on Wednesday.

The Competition Commission said it had completed an investigation which began in 2014 when it raided the local units of Unilever Plc and Sime Darby Bhd because it suspected price fixing.

It found that between 2004 and 2013, the two companies had an agreement not to compete with each other on certain pack sizes of margarine and edible oils.

Sime Darby, the world's top palm oil planter, settled with the Commission last year, the Commission said in a statement.

"Food and agro-processing is an important focus area for the Competition Commission, and we are determined to root out exploitation of consumers by cartels that are so prevalent in this sector," the Commission's head Tembinkosi Bonakele said in a statement.

Unilever's South African unit declined to comment. Unilever does not report local turnover figures.

The Commission has handed the findings of the probe along with a recommendation for a penalty to the Competition Tribunal, which holds hearings on the antitrust matters before giving the final ruling.

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