BEAVERTON, United States — Nike Inc. was fined €12.5 million ($14 million) by the European Union for preventing sports merchandise being sold in different countries, a move aimed at keeping prices high in some markets.
"Fans often cherish branded products from their favorite teams, such as jerseys or scarves. Nike prevented many of its licensees from selling these branded products in a different country leading to less choice and higher prices for consumers," EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Monday in an emailed statement.
The fine targets Nike’s business manufacturing products for teams including Barcelona, Manchester United, Juventus, Inter Milan and AS Roma as well as French national squad shirts. It doesn’t touch on Nike’s own-brand sales. Nike got a reduction of 40 percent for helping the EU with the investigation by providing incriminating evidence.
The probe is one of several aiming to crack down on online sales curbs that may hamper how goods are traded across Europe. Nike is separately being investigated by the EU over its tax deals in the Netherlands. Regulators say rulings for Nike units may have reduced its tax bill for royalties on Nike and Converse products sold in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The EU said Nike’s licensing and distribution deals, running from 2004 to 2017, prevented retailers selling the goods outside one country or imposing extra costs if they did. The company threatened to end contracts with stores if it suspected they were selling outside of an agreed area and policed them to make sure they obeyed.
By Aoife White; editors: Peter Chapman and Christopher Elser.