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China says to punish Audi, Chrysler for monopoly behaviour

China's antitrust regulator said on Wednesday it would punish Audi and Chrysler for monopoly practices, potentially paving the way for the automakers to be fined up to 10 per cent of their domestic annual sales revenue in the world's biggest car market.

Chrysler is owned by Fiat SpA while Volkswagen owns Audi, and both are premium brands in China. The regulator, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said an ongoing investigation into the two companies showed they had "conducted anti-competitive behaviours".

The NDRC also said it was launching a probe into Mercedes-Benz, owned by Daimler AG, and that it had finished investigating a dozen Japanese spare-part manufacturers on similar anti-trust charges. The regulator did not name the companies or give further details.

"They will be punished accordingly in the near future," NDRC spokesman Li Pumin told a press conference in Beijing.

Audi and other global automakers have recently rushed to change their pricing strategies in China in response to the government investigation into the auto industry, and amid domestic media complaints that foreign carmakers were overcharging Chinese customers on vehicles and spare parts.