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European Court annuls VW fine for Passat price-fixing

The European Court of First Instance has annulled a €30.96 million EC fine on VW for requiring its German dealers to adhere to recommended sale prices on the Passat in 1996 and '97.

The court's judgment hinged on its finding that VW had acted unilaterally rather than in concert with its dealers. It held that there was no evidence that dealers had acquiesced voluntarily in VW's price fixing plans, and that their signature to the dealer contracts then operating, which were fully compliant with the block exemption, could not be construed as indicating their preparedness to join the manufacturer in price maintenance plans.

- Meanwhile, the CDU prime minster of Lower Saxony, Christian Wulff, representing the German state's 20% stake in VW AG, followed unions on VW's supervisory board this week in criticizing the manufacturer's push upmarket with the VW Phaeton and its investment in the Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini brands. Wulff was speaking at the Christian Democrats' party congress at Leipzig.

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