Friday, February 15, 2008

Lactalis Mclelland Agrees Early Resolution in Dairy Retail Price Initiatives Investigation

The OFT has agreed an early resolution with Lactalis McLelland following the
OFT's Statement of Objections ('SO') of 20 September 2007 which provisionally
found evidence of collusion between certain supermarkets and dairy processors
on the retail prices of certain dairy products.

Lactalis McLelland is the company formed by the acquisition of A McLelland
and Son Limited by Groupe Lactalis in September 2004, and the alleged
anti-competitive conduct set out in the SO was carried out by A McLelland
and Son Limited before this acquisition. Lactalis McLelland has admitted the
involvement of A McLelland and Son Limited in the alleged anti-competitive
practices in relation to retail prices of cheese in 2002 and 2003, and as
a result has agreed to pay a penalty.
A number of the parties under investigation have admitted their involvement in
certain of the alleged anti-competitive practices identified in the SO and have
agreed to pay individual penalties. Lactalis McLelland and the other parties
with whom the OFT has reached an early resolution will receive a significant
reduction in the financial penalty that could otherwise have been imposed,
on condition that they continue to provide full co-operation. Combined,
the financial penalties agreed by these parties before taking into account
any reduction for early resolution, come to a maximum of over £120 million.
The OFT is very pleased that the constructive cooperation of Lactalis McLelland
has enabled the case alleged against it to be resolved effectively and swiftly.
The investigation against the remaining parties, Morrisons and Tesco, is
continuing. The OFT will carefully consider these parties' representations
on the provisional findings, and the evidence in the case as a whole before
reaching any final decision.

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