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Shell Sued Over Rubber Cartel

Bloomberg

Shell, Unipetrol, Bayer Are Sued Over Rubber Cartel (Update2) 

By Caroline Byrne

May 20 (Bloomberg) — Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., the second- largest U.S. tiremaker, and 25 other companies sued Unipetrol AS, units of Royal Dutch Shell PlcBayer AG, and as many as 20 others over an alleged rubber cartel in Europe.

The claimants, which make tires and other rubber products, are seeking cash compensation for losses they say resulted from a cartel operating from about 1996 to 2002, Unipetrol said yesterday in a statement to the Prague exchange. The suit was filed at the High Court in London.

“They didn’t specify the damages,” Blanka Ruzickova, a Prague-based spokeswoman for Unipetrol, said today in an interview. Unipetrol, the Czech Republic’s biggest oil company, has 28 days to respond to a request to have the case heard in London, she said.

Unipetrol and units of Shell, Dow Chemical Co., Eni SpA and Trade-Stomil Sp were fined a total of 519 million euros ($813 million) in a 2006 European Union antitrust case over material used to make tires and shoes. The companies are appealing.

Bayer spokesman Markus Loeber said today the company was named as a defendant and declined to comment further.

Bayer agreed in 2004 to pay $66 million to settle a U.S. criminal charge that it participated in a global conspiracy to fix prices of ingredients in rubber. The Leverkusen, Germany- based company was immune from fines in the EU case.

Shell

Stuart Bruseth, a spokesman for Shell in London, and Rainer Winzenried, a company spokesman in the Netherlands, didn’t respond to messages left today.

Jim Combs, a lawyer for Cooper Tire’s U.K. unit, didn’t return a telephone message. Chris Huntley, a spokesman for Midland, Michigan-based Dow, said they “do not discuss ongoing litigation.”

Trade-Stomil of Poland didn’t answer calls during business hours and no one answered an e-mail to the company. Eni’s Rome- based spokesman Gianni Di Giovanni was in a meeting today and not immediately available.

Cooper Tire’s main U.S. competitor is Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., the country’s largest tiremaker.

The case is Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. v. Shell Chemicals U.K. Ltd., 07-1676.

To contact the reporter on this story: Caroline Byrne in London at[email protected].

 

Last Updated: May 20, 2008 14:56 EDT

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