The Competition Commission said on Thursday that two companies involved in the manufacturing and supply of key chemical input materials used to make detergents, cosmetics and toiletries, have agreed to pay fines after admitting to price fixing and dividing markets.
Investchem and Akulu Marchon are manufacturers and suppliers of a range of surfactant products widely used in the detergent, cosmetics and toiletry industries.
Surfactants, or surface active agents, are one of many different compounds that may act as detergents, wetting agents, emulsifiers, foaming agents and dispersants.
The Commission said Investchem had agreed to pay a penalty of R23.4 million while Akulu will pay an amount of R13.9 million in terms of the settlement agreement each concluded with the Commission.
In December 2014, the Commission conducted a search and seizure operation at the premises of both companies as part of an investigation into cartel activities.
The Commission said between 2003 and 2013, Investchem and Akulu Marchon – which are competitors – agreed to fix prices for surfactants and also divided the market by agreeing not pursue each others’ customers.
The Commission said these agreements contravened section 4 of the Competition Act.
“Both Investchem and Akulu have agreed to future conduct that ensures this cartel conduct does not recur and that their respective customers are treated fairly without discrimination,” the Commission said.