Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz gets $57m fine in China over price fixing           (Reuters)

Antitrust regulators in China have fined Daimler's Mercedes-Benz about $57m (£38m, €53m) for price fixing, as the country continues to crack down on alleged malpractices by foreign and local firms to hinder competition.

Regulators in China's Jiangsu province accused the company of pressuring local dealers into fixing prices on luxury cars and some spare parts.

"After an investigation, Mercedes-Benz dealers in Jiangsu province were found to have implemented a fixed minimum price for E- and S-class vehicle parts in violation of the anti-monopoly law," the Jiangsu province pricing bureau said in a statement.

The bureau added the dealers also set minimum prices for entire E- and S-class cars between January 2013 and July 2014. The dealers in the cities of Nanjing, Wuxi and Suzhou were separately fined by the regulator.

A Mercedes-Benz spokesperson said the company "accepts the decision and takes its responsibilities under competition law very seriously".

"We have taken all appropriate steps to ensure to fully comply with the law," he told Reuters.

The malpractices were found after the bureau launched an investigation into the company in July 2014 and raided its dealerships in the province and an office in neighbouring Shanghai.

The probe is part of the government's anti-monopoly investigation into more than 1,000 domestic and foreign firms in the auto sector. The investigations target monopolistic practices in general and aim to promote fair competition and protect consumer interests.

In 2014, the local price regulator in central China's Hubei province earlier announced a combined fine of about $260,000 for four BMW dealers in the province, who were found to have formed a price alliance.

China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) had found similar monopolistic practices at Chrysler, Audi and 12 Japanese auto makers.

China has been targeting a number of foreign firms, especially in the food and technology sectors, for anti-monopoly practices.

The country imposed fines on milk powder companies including Mead Johnson Nutrition Co and Danone SA, alleging breach of its anti-monopoly laws.

In the technology sector, China targeted US companies Qualcomm and Microsoft over anti-trust claims.