Gleiss Lutz secures acquittal for Geberit in bathroom supplier cartel procedure

The European Commission today imposed fines totalling EUR 622 million on various bathroom equipment suppliers for their involvement in a cartel. According to the Commission’s findings, for a number of years up until 2004 the firms agreed price increases for bathroom fittings, shower enclosures and sanitary ware and exchanged sensitive business information. This was one of the largest European cartel proceedings of recent years, involving 19 companies in all. The investigations went on for almost six years.

Geberit AG, represented by Gleiss Lutz, was granted an acquittal. In the statement of objections the Commission issued, it accused Geberit of participation in the illegal cartel. However, Geberit has always denied any involvement. In the course of the written proceedings and the oral hearing Geberit succeeded in refuting the Commission’s allegations. The Commission now dropped the case against them.

Together, the products concerned by the proceedings (bathroom fittings, shower enclosures and sanitary ware) form what consumers refer to as bathroom equipment. This includes, for example, shower columns, taps, toilet bowls, washbasins and shower trays. The market value of the three product categories in the six countries concerned (Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands and Austria) was estimated at EUR 2.8 billion in 2004.

Geberit AG was represented Dr. Matthias Karl (partner), Dr. Christian Steinle (partner) and Dr. Ole Andresen, all of whom are based in Stuttgart.