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South Korea fines Denso, Continental, Bosch units for price collusion

Employees walk outside of the Denso (Guangzhou Nansha) Co Ltd plant in Nansha, Guangdong province June 22, 2010. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's anti-trust regulator has fined the units of Denso Corp, Continental AG and Bosch a total of 114.6 billion won ($107.99 million), saying they had fixed prices of parts sold to Hyundai Motor Co.

The fine comes as antitrust regulators from the United States to Europe and Japan crack down on price collusion among auto parts makers. Among the components affected globally are seat belts, radiators, windshield wipers, air-conditioning systems, power window motors and power steering components.

South Korea's Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said on Monday the units of Denso, Continental and Bosch had rigged prices of instrument panels and wipers sold to Hyundai and affiliate Kia Motors. The vehicles affected were Hyundai's Sonata (LF), Elantra (MD) and Kia's Pride (UB) and Carnival (YP).

Japan's Denso and a South Korean unit as well as Continental's unit were involved in price-fixing of instrument panels from January 2008 to March 2012. The panels were installed on 11 million Hyundai and Kia vehicles, the FTC said.

Denso and a second Korean unit as well as Bosch's unit colluded on the prices of wipers between August 2008 and February 2009, the FTC said.

The two Denso units face the biggest fine of 63 billion won, followed by Continental Automotive Electronics with 46 billion won and the Bosch unit with 5.6 billion won.

A spokeswoman for Continental in South Korea said she has not received any notice from the FTC on the fine, while officials for Bosch and Denso here were also not immediately available for comment.

The U.S. Justice Department and antitrust enforcers worldwide have been probing price fixing of more than 30 car parts in a probe that has involved 20 companies and 21 executives. The companies have agreed to pay a total of $1.6 billion in fines. ($1 = 1061.2000 Korean won)

(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Ryan Woo)