The Italian Competition Authority (ICA) has opened an in-depth investigation into Cadel s.r.l. (Cadel), an Italian company owned by MCZ Group S.p.A. (one of the main operators in the heating sector), producing pellet stoves and wood burning heaters.
The investigation started after the complaint of an online distributor selling Cadels' products. It is alleged that, in particular, Cadel:
- imposed minimum resale prices on its distributors;
- asked them to limit the sale of products to within Italy; and
- hindered the distributors' ability to promote the online selling of Cadel's products.
ICA also alleged that the above behaviour was not mitigated by any pro-competitive justification.
In its Statement of Objections, the ICA alleged that such conduct was an unlawful infringement of Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union because it would discourage the expansion of distributors' activity beyond a certain geographic area and would prevent foreign consumers from purchasing Cadels' products sold online by Italian distributors.
The investigation continues.