Avery Dennison Offices Raided in EU Price-Fixing Probe
US, Canadian authorities cooperating in the ''involved'' investigation
PASADENA - 05/26/04 - The European offices of several international paper products firms including Pasadena-based Avery Dennison have been raided by European Union authorities and federal law enforcement agencies as part of a major transatlantic investigation of price-fixing and the manipulation of markets.
Several press sources report that the company, which commands a major slice of the international self-adhesive label market, confirmed that European Commission and other national regulators visited and collected documents from the company's pressure-sensitive materials manufacturing facilities in the Netherlands and Germany.
According to a company spokesman, the probe "appears to be related to alleged anti-competitive activities in the European paper market, particularly the market for adhesive label stock."
Avery Dennison employs more than 20,300 people at more than 275 manufacturing facilities and sales offices in 44 countries around the world. Last year, sales in the US and 89 counties amounted to $4.8 billion with the company ranking number 359 on the 2002 Fortune 500 list U.S. industrial and service companies.
Other US companies involved in the probe include International Paper Co., the largest forest products company in North America which said it had been contacted by US officials in connection with the probe, and packaging maker Bemis Co., which reported that European investigators visited its manufacturing-distribution facility in Belgium.
Several other US-based forest product companies - Georgia-Pacific Corp., Louisiana-Pacific Corp., and Weyerhaeuser Co. - said they had not been contacted by authorities.
According to several press sources, authorities also raided facilities operated by Finland's UPM-Kymmene, Stora Enso, Metsaliitto and M-real, and Norway's Norske Skog.
Both US and Canadian authorities are cooperating with the investigation with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington confirming that it is investigating "possible anti-competitive practices" in the magazine paper market.
A Department spokeswoman said the probe covers the sale of magazine paper in the US and elsewhere, but refused to elaborate further.
According to a spokesman for the European Union, "The purpose of these inspections is to ascertain whether there is evidence of cartel agreements and related illegal practices concerning price fixing, fixing of other commercial terms and/or allocation of customer."
"The raids are a preliminary step in a cartel probe and do not prejudge the outcome of an investigation. There is no deadline for the commission to complete its probe," he said, adding the scope of the investigation is "involved."
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