Sophie Vorrath writes:

Still feeling confused about the cartel business? Well, here’s how
it works according to the ACCC’s 120-page statement
of claim lodged at the Federal
Court this week.

Exhibit A: After
Visy won the box-supply contract of a former Amcor
customer in August 2001, Visy’s GM Rod Carroll met
with Amcor’s GM Edward Laidlaw to offer him compensation – the
contract for toilet paper maker
Merino. When Merino invited Amcor to tender for the contract, Amcor
came back with price about 14% higher
than Merino’s Visy contract. Merino purchasing officer Steve Childs
then got a quote from Visy, which came back about 37% higher than the
previous contract price. Confused, Childs met with his Visy rep to
query the price but the
rep confirmed the price. Merino had no choice but to award the contract
to
Amcor and wear the 14% price hike.


Exhibit B:
In December 2000, Visy CEO Harry Debney met with Amcor’s
then
managing director Peter Brown to
express his displeasure that Amcor had taken the box supply contract
for Visy’s former customer, Lion Nathan (LNA), arguing that it breached
the terms of a no-poaching arrangement. As compensation the two
decided that Amcor
would “allow Visy to take” the Inghams account. So, in February 2001 Amcor general
manager Edward Laidlaw told Visy’s GM Rod Carroll the average dollar
per tonne price Amcor proposed to quote to Inghams. Visy then submitted its own proposal to Inghams, lower than
Amcor’s. Inghams’s Kevin Radlich signed with Visy
in September 2004.

Exhibit C: In mid-2001, Amcor’s Peter Brown met with Visy’s
Harry Debney and told him he felt that by getting Inghams and Smith’s,
Visy had recovered more
than the volume it had lost as a result of Amcor taking Lion Nathan.
Debney agreed to correct the imbalance by allowing Amcor to
take the contract for George Weston
Foods Ltd (GWF) Meat and Dairy division from Visy.

Exhibit D: In December 2001, Carroll and Laidlaw agreed
that their companies would seek to continue their joint supply of
packaging to The Mildura Fruit Company (MFC). At the same time, the two also agreed that
they needed to increase prices of citrus boxes in the Murray River
region. So, with both of their contracts with MFC due to expire at the
end of May, they agreed to increased prices for boxes supplied to MFC by about 12%. After some to-and
-fro-ing between MFC signed with both companies, agreeing to
price rises of 10% and 12% for the first year of supply.

Peter Fray

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