India probes anti-competitive practices by car makers


The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is investigating anti-competitive practices by car makers, the government said on Thursday, without naming the companies in question.

The CCI had received information against some car makers, Minister of State for corporate affairs R.P.N. Singh told parliament in a written reply. He did not say what the complaints were.

"Yes, we are investigating but we cannot reveal details at this stage," the commission's chairman Ashok Chawla told Reuters on Thursday. Chawla, the relatively new head of the three-year-old CCI, was previously the top civil servant in the Finance Ministry.

A spokesman for Maruti Suzuki , India's largest carmaker, declined to comment on the statement, while spokespersons for Mahindra & Mahindra and Hyundai's Indian unit, also declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

A report in the Economic Times newspaper on Wednesday, citing unnamed sources, said the CCI was looking into a practice whereby automakers do not allow dealers to sell other brands.

Under Chawla's stewardship, in June and July, the anti-trust body handed 12 of the country's biggest cement companies record fines of more than $1.1 billion for price fixing.

At the time, analysts said the ruling, which was heavier than expected, reflected an increasingly tough approach by the regulator, which was making companies take competition law compliance more seriously.