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Huntsman Settles Polyurethane Price-Fixing Case

Posted  July 7, 2011

Huntsman International LLC, a subsidiary of the chemical giant Huntsman Corp., has agreed to pay $33 million to settle a class action suit alleging anticompetitive practices.

The direct purchaser plaintiffs claim that five major chemical companies, BASF, Dow Chemical, Bayer, LyondellBasell, and Huntsman, colluded to fix the price of feedstock used to make polyurethane foam.  They point to repeated instances of simultaneous and identical price increases as evidence for their claim that a conspiracy to maintain artificially high prices existed.

These five players allegedly wield exclusive control of the U.S. polyurethane feedstock market.  Plaintiffs alleged that this, combined with high barriers for market entry and feedstock’s status as an undifferentiated commodity, makes the industry particularly susceptible to price-fixing agreements.

Huntsman’s settlement acknowledges no wrongdoing.  A spokesman for Huntsman said that the company wanted to avoid the expense of complex, long-term litigation and move forward with business.

The plaintiffs are very satisfied with the $33 million agreement, a figure that represents 1.4% of Huntsman’s sales during the contested period.  LyondellBasell and Bayer have reached similar deals.

Counsel for the plaintiffs say they will continue to pursue the remaining defendants, BASF and Dow Chemical.

Tagged in: Antitrust Litigation, Price Fixing,