By John Stonestreet and Ludwig Burger
(Reuters) -The Swiss antitrust agency on Wednesday named four companies it is investigating for forming an alleged fragrance cartel that is also the target of U.S. and other European watchdogs.
They are Switzerland’s Givaudan, domestic rival Firmenich, which is merging with Dutch chemicals group DSM, U.S.-based International Flavors & Fragrances Inc and Germany’s Symrise, Swiss competition commission COMCO said.
News of the probe into the supply of fragrances and fragrance ingredients broke on Tuesday, when Givaudan confirmed it was being investigated.
COMCO said several raids were carried out in conjunction with the European Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division and the UK Competition and Markets Authority.
The British watchdog on Tuesday set a deadline of early 2024 for analysing and reviewing information gathered from the companies.
The companies face fines of as much as 10% of their global turnover if shown to have violated EU antitrust rules.
A Symrise spokesperson confirmed the group was part of the investigation and that it would cooperate with authorities.
The international probe weighed on the shares of the companies.
Symrise, which on Wednesday forecast a 2023 core profit margin slightly below market expectations, dropped 3.9% in early trading after the open.
Givaudan’s shares dropped 2.7% and DSM lost 2.8%, while U.S.-listed International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) was down 2.9% at Tuesday’s close.
A spokesperson at the European headquarters of IFF did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
Symrise said on Wednesday it had a 12% share of the combined market for fragrances, flavours, aroma chemicals and cosmetic ingredients last year, with Givaudan, IFF and Firmenich accounting for 18%, 22% and 11%, respectively.
($1 = 0.9484 euros)
(Reporting by John Stonestreet in London and Ludwig Burger and Patricia Weiss in Frankfurt; Editing by Jason Neely and Shounak Dasgupta)