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German rail company suing steel firms over price fixing

BERLIN--German rail company Deutsche Bahn said Sunday it was launching a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against major steel manufacturers over illegal price fixing.

Gerd Becht, a member of the Deutsche Bahn board, told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that it would file suit against nine unnamed companies, four of them German, for a figure in the “hundreds of millions of euros” range.

“The companies participating in the cartel have refused talks on compensation for damages. That is why we are suing,” he said.

Becht complained that the companies had cooperated with European competition authorities but rejected appeals from affected clients for a settlement.

“We're not going to take it anymore,” he said.

Deutsche Bahn conducted an internal study which found that the alleged price fixing meant it had bought 49 million railway parts made of steel and concrete over the course of 18 years at a price inflated by 20 to 30 percent.

The European Commission fined 17 steel producers a total of 518 million euros (US$717 million) in 2010 for running a price-fixing cartel, with industry giant ArcelorMittal hit the hardest.

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