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Liquor firms hit with monopoly fines

By Chen Dujuan (Global Times)

08:51, February 20, 2013

Fines of 449 million yuan ($71.9 million) for price monopoly levied against Kweichow Moutai Co and Wuliangye Group, China's top two liquor firms, prompted mixed responses but no apologies, according to Tuesday reports.

Moutai Group's office director Zou Xin told Tuesday that enterprises that have made mistakes should be allowed opportunities for correction.

A Wuliangye staff member was cited Tuesday by as saying that the company had rectified its price-limiting conduct, but had yet to receive the penalty notice from the NDRC.

Neither of the two firms responded to calls by the Global Times.

Moutai will be fined 247 million yuan and Wuliangye will be fined 202 million yuan by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

A fax sent to the NDRC by the Global Times was unanswered by press time.

Both firms had set price floors for their distributors, and penalized some at the end of 2012 for selling products below the suggested retail prices, which aroused anti-monopoly investigations by the NDRC in January.

"Floor price policies are common practices used by luxury companies to maintain their brand images, but they are unreasonable both for distributors and for consumers, so the NDRC's move could help create free market competition," You Yunting, an economic lawyer at DeBund Law Offices, told the Global Times Tuesday.

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