Pulp makers scrutinised over possible cartel

Jo Francis
Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The European Commission has carried out unannounced inspections at wood pulp manufacturers, due to “concerns that the inspected companies may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices”.

Bales of pulp at a UPM Pulp facility. Image: UPM
Bales of pulp at a UPM Pulp facility. Image: UPM

The inspections are taking place today (12 October). 

“Unannounced inspections are a preliminary step in an investigation into suspected anticompetitive practices. The fact that the Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself,” the Commission explained, in a statement. 

Commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the relevant national competition authorities.

UPM-Kymmene and Stora Enso have both confirmed that they are among the companies being inspected. 

UPM said: “European Commission’s competition authorities have today started an unannounced inspection at UPM’s premises. 

“At this stage, UPM does not have information on the outcome of the inspection. UPM supports the Commission in its investigation but cannot comment any further on the ongoing investigation.”

Stora Enso issued a statement, and said: “Stora Enso was included in the European Commission's inspection through a visit conducted by the Finnish Competition and Consumer authority at its headquarters in Kanavaranta, FinlandStora Enso is cooperating fully with the authorities.”

The commission said inspections were taking place “in locations in several Member States at the premises of companies active in the wood pulp sector”.

Pulp prices have increased sharply since Q4 2020, contributing to the prices rises implemented by a wide range of paper makers this year. 

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