Asian Paints Faces Anti-Trust Probe For Hindering JSW Paints Entry Into Market
Paint swatches are displayed at a Lowe’s Cos. store in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg)

Asian Paints Faces Anti-Trust Probe For Hindering JSW Paints Entry Into Market

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The Competition Commission of India has ordered a probe against Asian Paints Ltd. for allegedly hindering the entry of JSW Paints by virtue of its dominance in the market for manufacture and sale of decorative paints.

The order came after JSW Paints filed a complaint alleging that Asian Paints threatened various dealers in Karnataka, Telangana and Tamil Nadu from dealing with JSW Paints.

"The Commission is of the view that evidence provided by JSW Paints is prima facie sufficient to indicate that Asian Paints has denied access to the distribution channels in the relevant market to JSW Paints by threatening and coercing such dealers through various means," CCI said.

Asian Paints, "prima facie", appears to be in contravention of provisions of India's Competition Act, it added.

JSW Paints alleged that the dealers faced punitive action at the hands of Asian Paints if they continued to deal with JSW Paints. It was also alleged that Asian Paints threatened the dealers to discontinue their supplies, and disallowed discretionary discounts, among others.

These restraints appear to be in the nature of exclusive supply agreement and refusal to deal, JSW Paints alleged. Besides, JSW Paints stated that Asian Paints has always maintained the highest market share and there have been no new players in the relevant market in the past 10 years.

CCI noted that denial of market access is a "severe form of abuse of dominant position".

"In the facts of the present case, the commission notes that the alleged conduct of Asian Paints of threatening and pressurising dealers as highlighted by JSW Paints prima facie brings out that Asian Paints has attempted to prevent JSW Paints in establishing a presence in the relevant market," CCI said.

It also said "the alleged restrictions on dealers not to deal with JSW Paints or any other company manufacturing paints can create barriers for suppliers of paints, who compete with these suppliers besides not allowing the benefit of better prices to the consumers".

Accordingly, CCI in its order passed on Wednesday directed the director general "to complete the investigation and submit the investigation report within a period of 60 days from the receipt of this order".

On Wednesday, Asian Paints shares rose 1.14 percent to Rs 1,839.80 apiece on the NSE while the benchmark Nifty 50 shed 0.15 percent to end the day at 12,343.30 points.

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