Law Firm Investigating Sulfuric Acid Price Fixing - Pike & Fischer - May 26, 2003

Law Firm Investigating Sulfuric Acid Price Fixing
Pike & Fischer
May 26, 2003

CHICAGO - The law firm of Kenneth B Moll & Associates is conducting an investigation into possible sulfuric acid price fixing by Normalco LLC, Noranda Inc., and Falconbridge Ltd., which may have occurred between January 1, 1988 and December 31, 2002, according to Michael O'Meara. The fertilizer industry consumes about 65 percent of sulfuric acid production, according to the firm.

O'Meara added that other companies in the U.S. and Canada may have been involved in the scheme. He said investigations by the Canadian Competition Bureau and the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice were already underway.

The firm said that at a recent hearing in the Ontario Court of Appeals revealed that an unnamed Noranda executive convinced American sulfuric acid producers in the 1980s to close three manufacturing plants, fix prices and exchange customer lists. In exchange for cutting their own production, the American companies were paid a high commission for selling Noranda's product in the U.S., the firm said.

'This happened over many, many years and, potentially, with many, many companies,' said O'Meara. 'We are talking to these companies to see if there is consistency on what they paid and what they should have paid.'

If the investigation does reveal price fixing, O'Meara said a class-action, antitrust suit would be filed in federal court at a location to be determined. The suit would seek three times the actual amount of damages.

O'Meara said companies that made purchases of sulfuric acid during the period under investigation should contact his office at 1-312-558-6444. 'The first thing we are trying to do is to inform purchasers who may have overpaid,' O'Meara said. 'They may not even know about it.'

The three companies had not responded to inquiries at press time.