Competition watchdogs launch cartel investigation into prominent global fragrance businesses


UK regulators have launched an investigation into four international businesses suspected of anti-competitive conduct in relation to the supply of fragrances and fragrance ingredients.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) suspects anti-competitive behaviour involving the supply of ingredients for use in the manufacture of consumer products such as household and personal care products.

Swiss and US regulators are also part of the investigations into the following companies:

  • Firmenich International SA
  • Givaudan SA
  • International Flavours & Fragrances Inc
  • Symrise AG

According to a statement by a European Union executive, the bloc “has concerns that companies and an association in the fragrance industry worldwide may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices”.

“We don’t consider ourselves as affected,” Symrise’s chief executive Heinz-Juergen Bertram said in a media call, adding that “we have nothing to hide”.

Privately owned Firmnenich, which is in the process of combining with Dutch health and nutrition group Royal DSM, sais that it is“fully cooperating with the relevant authorities” and that it doesn’t believe these investigations “are in any way connected” with Royal DSM.

Firminech put out a statement at midday, February 8 explaining that unannounced inspections constitute a preliminary step into antitrust investigations into suspected infringements of competition rules but “this does not mean that the company has engaged in anti-competitive behavior nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself”.

Swiss group Givaudan said it is “part of an industry wide investigation” and “as a good corporate citizen” is “fully cooperating with the authorities.”

Replying by email, International Flavours & Fragrances told Proactive: “We are working closely with relevant authorities and cooperating with their industry investigation. Nothing more can be shared at this time.”

Givaudan and International Flavours & Fragrances Inc shares fell around 3% following the news, while Symrise fell closer to 2%.

Firminech said it has no further comment at this time. Givaudan and Symrise have been provided the opportunity to comment further.

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