Major European and Italian paper packaging companies, together with the industry association GIFCO, under suspicion of price fixing and market manipulation; Offices searched and inspected last Friday in a series of dawn raids.
Italy's competition and market authority AGCM has opened an antitrust investigation against major producers of corrugated sheets and corrugated packaging in Italy and the industry association GIFCO for alleged market manipulation and price fixing in Italy.
According to AGCM, the companies under investigation are DS Smith Packaging Italia and its affiliated company Toscana Ondulati, Smurfit Kappa Italia, International Paper Italia, Pro-Gest and its subsidiary Cartonstrong, Ondulati Nordest, Ondulati ed Imballaggi del Friuli, Sada Partecipazioni and its group companies Antonio Sada & Figli and Sada Packaging, Innova Group, Laveggia and its subsidiary Scatolificio la Veggia, and Imballaggi Piemontesi. The companies involved are all vertically integrated corrugated board and corrugated box manufacturers with combined annual sales amounting to over €2.2bn in 2015.
The antitrust watchdog agency explained that the companies involved in the alleged corrugated cartel were supposedly colluding on fixing prices as well as on quality and variety of products sold to independent corrugated packaging manufacturers by using an informal price list called Listino GIFCO, Listino Toscano or Listino 2004. In addition, AGCM alleged that they had allocated customers and were sharing sensitive information on product characteristics and production volumes.
The AGCM further announced that on 30 March, backed by officers of Italy's Guardia di Finanza, it had searched the offices and premises of several companies involved in the case.
DS Smith, International Paper and Pro-Gest confirmed that AGCM had conducted antitrust inspections at their premises in Italy and pledged full cooperation with the authorities in their investigation. Ondulati ed Imballaggi del Friuli said that the company has not been subject to dawn raids by AGCM and Guardia di Finanza officials, but that it had been informed about the investigation by way of certified email instead. A spokesman said the company offered its full cooperation to the relevant authorities.