The European Commission has sent a Statement of Objections (SO) to a number of companies alleging their participation in a price-fixing cartel for sodium chlorate. Sodium chlorate is mainly used as a bleaching agent in the pulp and paper industry. The Commission suspects that cartel participants jointly fixed the market price of sodium chlorate. The Commission gave no details of the companies suspected of involvement in the cartel but some of those involved have announced that they received an SO. They include French chemical group Arkema, Finland's Kemira (with subsidiary Finnish Chemicals) and Dutch-Swedish company Akzo Nobel (with subsidiary EKA). Two of the companies said the alleged antitrust activities concerned the period 1994 to 2000. They have ten weeks to reply to the SO and will then have the right to be heard in an oral hearing.