Royal Group Technologies Ltd., already busy with probes into its financial dealings, revealed it also is under the microscope for competitive practices in its troubled window coverings business.
The firm said Nov. 15 it agreed to pay a Canadian agency a fine of C$200,000 (US$166,000) for attempting to influence pricing of vinyl window coverings in 2002. Its U.S. and Mexican window-covering business units also are cooperating with separate investigations into cost and price increases within the industry in 2002 and before, the company said in a news release.
Royal Group Technologies (Quebec) Inc. has pleaded guilty to Canada's federal Competition Bureau for attempting to influence pricing of vertical blinds, valances and related products. The Competition Bureau found in an investigation dating to 2002 that an employee of Royal Group Quebec communicated with another company to try to maintain price levels.
Royal Group said the Canadian inquiry concerned an isolated, unsuccessful attempt to influence pricing in April 2002. The employee is no longer with Royal Group. Royal Group spokesman Mark Badger said due to privacy laws, he could not name the employee or indicate the employee's title.
John Pecman, acting deputy commissioner of competition for the bureau, said the Royal employee approached Queplex Ltd. to try to influence pricing. Queplex extrudes PVC profiles in Saint-Leonard, Quebec. Executives for Queplex were not available for comment.
Pecman said by phone he could not comment on whether his agency is working with U.S. or Mexican counterparts on price-fixing probes.
The Competition Bureau noted in a separate news release that Royal Group Quebec cooperated fully with its inquiry, thus avoiding costly litigation. Royal Group Quebec agreed to implement a compliance policy to ensure its future practices comply with the federal Competition Act.
Meanwhile, Royal Group Technologies and several of its senior officials are the subject of probes by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Ontario Securities Commission into related-party dealings, stock trading and fraud.