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EU charges Alcan with monopoly abuse

Archiv – Regulators of the European Union have charged Montreal, Canada-based aluminum producer Alcan – now owned by Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto PLC – with breaking antitrust rules, alleging its contracts forced customers to buy equipment along with smelting technology.European Union | Regulators of the European Union have charged Montreal, Canada-based aluminum producer Alcan – now owned by Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto PLC – with breaking antitrust rules, alleging its contracts forced customers to buy equipment along with smelting technology.
Rio Tinto Alcan spokesman Stefano Bertolli says the company contests the allegations and would co-operate with the European Commission.
The EU’s formal charge sheet can lead to a company being fined up to 10% of global turnover for each year it violated European law.
Alcan now has eight weeks to defend itself in writing and can ask for an oral hearing before the European Commission decides on fines or orders it to change the contracts.
Rio Tinto only took over Alcan last year, in a deal worth US$38.1 million at the time, making it the world’s largest producer of aluminum and bauxite. Its main rivals are Alcoa Inc. of the United States and Russia’s Rusal.
Regulators say Alcan’s customers of aluminum smelting technology – where it is the world’s leading supplier – are forced to accept contracts that seem to prevent them from using pot tending assemblies from companies other than Alcan’s ECL smelter equipment unit.
Ultimately, the EU executive says this illegal “tying” might significantly harm customers and end-users of aluminum by reducing innovation and hiking aluminum prices.
The global aluminum market is worth US$104 billion a year, the EU says.

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