Dow Jones reports today:
Two days after authorities in Brazil raided Whirlpool Corp.'s (WHR) offices there, the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed Thursday that it is investigating possible antitrust violations in the multibillion-dollar refrigeration compressor industry, in conjunction with international authorities.
The story also discloses that Whirlpool and a competitor, Tecumseh Products, received grand jury subpoenas and that Tecumseh "said authorities appear to be focusing on pricing issues."
In a press release earlier today, Whirlpool announced:
On February 17, 2009, Whirlpool Corporation (NYSE: WHR) received a grand jury subpoena from the U.S. Department of Justice requesting documents relating to an antitrust investigation of the global compressor industry. Whirlpool Corporation subsidiaries in Brazil and Italy were visited on the same day by competition authorities seeking similar information.
Whirlpool Corporation has a strong corporate code of conduct, which requires full compliance with all applicable antitrust and competition laws. It will cooperate fully with the investigations. To the Company's knowledge, there have been no charges filed against the company or any of its employees. As the European Commission has noted, "The fact that the Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour; nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself."
Tecumseh Products said yesterday:
Tecumseh Products Company , a leading global manufacturer of compressors and related products, today announced that the Company is in receipt of a subpoena from the United States Department of Justice Antitrust Division and a formal request for information from the Secretariat of Economic Law of the Ministry of Justice of Brazil related to investigations by these authorities into the compressor industry. In addition, the Company has learned that the European Commission has also begun an investigation of the industry. These requests appear related to a pricing issue, and the Company intends to comply with them.
The Company said it does not expect the investigations to impact in any material respect its ongoing operations or ability to compete in the markets it serves.
Update: Our newest favorite Australian trade publication, Hydraulics & Pneumatics, reports that Danish company Danfoss also "has had surprise visits by authorities at its offices in Nordborg, Denmark and Flensburg, Germany as well as at several facilities in US."