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German Cartel Office Issues First Fines in Rail Cartel Probe

07/05/2012 | 05:13am US/Eastern

By Monica Houston-Waesch

Germany's cartel office Thursday issued fines totaling 124.5 million euros ($156.5 million) to companies in a rail cartel probe.

The fines relate to the initial part of the investigation into whether manufacturers made cartel agreements on the supply of rail to Germany's Deutsche Bahn, to the disadvantage of the railway company. The fines aren't legally binding and may be appealed.

ThyssenKrupp AG (>> ThyssenKrupp AG) unit ThyssenKrupp GfT Gleistechnik GmbH was fined EUR103 million, Vossloh AG unit Stahlberg Roensch GmbH was fined EUR13 million, and two units of Austrian steelmaker voestalpline AG (VOE.VI) were fined a total of EUR8.5 million.

"This case shows anew that public tenders require strong scrutiny," the office said in a statement.

In a statement, voestalpine said its fine would have been several times higher without its prompt cooperation in the probe.

ThyssenKrupp said it would accept the fine to settle this part of the case, and that investigations are still underway regarding two other product areas. The company has made a provision of EUR30 million for the remainder of the probe, it said in a statement.

The cartel office said it would expand the investigation to other areas, including the supply of rail to regional and local railways.

Write to Monica Houston-Waesch at nikki.houston@dowjones.com

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