A Reuters report has indicated that the May 2019 findings of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) probe allegedly shows potential price manipulation by Tata Steel’s bearing division, SKF and Schaeffler, the key bearings players in India.
According to the findings, there was consensus among the three players ‘to seek a price increase of 12 percent and settle at six percent’ with tractor and automotive manufacturers. For two-wheeler manufacturers there was a consensus to seek a ‘10 percent price increase and settle at four percent’.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) investigation report says these companies indulged in secret cooperation to influence and increase the pricing of bearings. CCI undertook an investigation in 2017, when it received information that five companies may have artificially influenced the prices of bearings between 2009-2014, which led to higher raw material cost being passed on to the consumers.
These companies controlled nearly 75 percent of the domestic bearings market between 2009-2011 — a time when steel prices, the key raw material in bearings, was fluctuating sharply. The Reuters report addsthat the CCI findings indicated steep steel price volatility provided the companies an ‘incentive to collude’.
According to the Reuters' report, Tata Steel and National Engineering Industries declined to comment, SKF said it aided the investigation, and “dispute any claim of wrongdoing on the part of SKF”. The CCI report added that it found no evidence against ABC Bearings.