5 paint makers probed on prices to auto body shops

June 05, 2001|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

WASHINGTON -- DuPont Co. and other leading paint makers are the targets of an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department into allegations of price-fixing in the automotive-refinishing industry.

Justice officials have subpoenaed documents from DuPont, Sherwin-Williams Co., PPG Industries Inc. and BASF AG.

Akzo Nobel NV, the Dutch chemicals giant, has also been subpoenaed, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The five companies, which sell the bulk of the paint purchased by U.S. auto body shops, are accused of agreeing five years ago to fix wholesale prices, according to the Journal and Hammer and Dolly, a trade magazine that first reported the inquiry.

"For all these companies, it's the most profitable part of their paints business," said Anthony Cox, a Dresdner Kleinwort Benson analyst.

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