I811 - Car sales through financing: ICA sanctions cartel among leading operators imposing fines of over 670 million euros
On 20 December 2018, the Italian Competition Authority concluded an investigation launched against the leading captive banks and related automotive groups operating in Italy in the sale of vehicles by means of financial products, as well as their trade associations. The investigation was initiated following the submission of a request for leniency by Daimler AG and Mercedes Benz Financial Services Italia S.p.A., and assessed the implementation of a single, complex, continuous cartel involving the exchange of sensitive information on current and future quantities and prices.
In particular, the ICA established that, between 2003 and 2017, Bank PSA Italia S.p.A., Banque PSA Finance S.A., Santander Consumer Bank S.p.A., BMW Bank GmbH, BMW AG, Daimler AG, Merceds Benz Financial Services Italia S.p.A., FCA Bank S.p.A., FCA Italy S.p.A., CA Consumer Finance S.A., FCE Bank Plc, Ford Motor Company, General Motor Financial Italia S.p.A., General Motors Company, RCI Banque S.A., Renault S.A., Toyota Financial Services Plc., Toyota Motor Corporation, Volkswagen Bank GmbH, Volkswagen AG., as well as the trade associations Assofin and Assilea, implemented an agreement restricting competition aimed at altering the competitive dynamics in the market of car sales of their parent groups through financing issued by the respective captive banks.
In view of the severity and duration of the infringement, the Authority adopted a fining decision of a total of approximately 678 million euros.
The ICA also awarded the benefit of full immunity from sanctions to Daimler AG and Mercedes Benz Financial Services Italia SpA, which thus avoided, as leniency applicants, a fine exceeding 60 million euros.
During the proceedings, the Authority was supported by the Special Antitrust Unit of the Italian Guardia di Finanza.
Rome, 9 January 2019