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Symrise Contests EU Fragrance Cartel Raid in Court

The European Commission, in a March announcement, said it had raided several companies on concerns that they may be taking part in a cartel for fragrances used in the manufacture of household and personal care products.
Fragrance.
German flavour and fragrance maker Symrise has challenged dawn raids conducted by EU antitrust regulators. (Shutterstock)

German flavour and fragrance maker Symrise has challenged dawn raids conducted by EU antitrust regulators four months ago and asked Europe’s second highest court to annul information collected during the raids.

The European Commission, in a March announcement, said it had raided several companies on concerns that they may be taking part in a cartel for fragrances used in the manufacture of household and personal care products.

The EU competition enforcer did not name the companies.

The Swiss competition agency a day later said it had raided Germany’s Symrise, Givaudan, Firmenich, which is merging with Dutch chemicals group DSM and US-based International Flavors & Fragrances in conjunction with the Commission, the US Department of Justice Antitrust Division and the UK Competition and Markets Authority.

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Symrise has asked the Luxembourg-based General Court, Europe’s second-highest, to annul the Commission’s decision ordering the raids, according to a filing in the EU Official Journal.

The company said the decision was arbitrary “because the Commission did not have sufficient indicia providing reasonable grounds for suspecting the applicant’s involvement in any competition law infringement”.

It was also “a disproportionate interference with its fundamental rights of inviolability of private premises and privacy as it contains no limitation in time”.

Symrise also took issue with the wording in the EU raid decision, saying it was not able to understand the scope of the inspection in order to exercise its rights of defence.

The company said the EU competition watchdog also searched various documents from June 21 to 23 and only retained a marginal number of documents.

“We now firmly believe that Symrise cannot be the main target of the investigations conducted,” the company said in a statement.

By Foo Yun Chee

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Germany’s Symrise Q1 Sales Rise as Demand Stays Strong

Its January-March revenue rose 12.8 percent in reporting currency to €1.23 billion ($1.35 billion), a touch above analysts’ average forecast of €1.22 billion in a company-provided poll.

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