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UPDATE 1-Mercedes-Benz, UK dealers fined for competition breach

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

LONDON, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Daimler's Mercedes-Benz and three of its British commercial vehicle dealers have been fined 2.6 million pounds ($4 million) by Britain's competition watchdog for price fixing.

The Office of Fair Trading said on Thursday that there had been three admitted competition law infringements involving market sharing, price coordination and the exchange of commercially sensitive information over the sale and distribution of the German automaker's vans and trucks between 2008 and 2010.

The fines have been levied against the Ciceley, Road Range and Enza dealerships, which are active in northern England and parts of Wales and Scotland, the OFT said.

"These cases send a clear signal that the OFT will take firm action against companies that collude to deny customers the benefit of fair competition regardless of the size of the firms involved or geographic scope of the investigation," said Ali Nikpay, the OFT's senior director of cartels.

The OFT said it had agreed to reduce the fines by 15 percent to reflect the companies' cooperation.

Mercedes-Benz UK said it "regrets the incident" and has since strengthened its internal controls.

"The company and its staff have fully co-operated with the investigators over the past three years," the firm said in a statement.

Based on its turnover, Mercedez-Benz' settlement figure was 1.49 million pounds, it added.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130221/update-1-mercedes-benz-uk-dealers-fined-competition-breach