China’s National Development and Reform Commission Fines Two Liquor Manufacturers for Resale Price Maintenance

On Feb. 22, 2013, China’s antitrust regulators announced that they had imposed a total penalty of around RMB 449 million ($71.5 million) for resale price maintenance by two state-owned liquor companies, Wuliangye Yibin and Kweichow Moutai. This is the largest fine the Chinese authorities have levied in an antitrust case to date. In a statement issued by the Sichuan Provincial Development and Reform Commission, the regulator said that Wuliangye, a leading company in the high-end liquor industry that enjoys strong consumer loyalty, signed agreements with more than 3,200 independent, third-party distributors to restrict the minimum resale price. It used its strength to impose the minimum prices and also carried out regional monitoring and assessment and terminal control. In 2012, it punished 14 distributors who did not implement its resale price restriction policies. The Guizhou Price Bureau issued a statement saying that Kweichow Moutai had fixed minimum resale prices for third-party distributors of its liquor, and punished those distributors that did not comply. According to publicly available information, Wuliangye was fined RMB 202 million ($ 32.2 million) and Kweichow Moutai was fined RMB 247 million ($39.3 million).