The Federal Trade Commission said Friday that it issued final approval for settlements with propane exchange tank suppliers Blue Rhino and AmeriGas Partners LP over charges they colluded to force Wal-Mart Stores Inc., a top customer, to purchase reduced amounts of propane without any change in price.
The FTC approved the deals a week after the conclusion of a 30-day public comment period. Under the settlements, which the agency earlier voted to accept by a vote of 3-1-1, each company is barred from agreeing with competitors to modify fill levels or otherwise fix the prices of exchange tanks, and from coordinating communications to customers.
“Simply put, the antitrust laws do not permit private agreements to avoid competition,” Deborah Feinstein, director of the FTC’s bureau of competition, said in October when the proposed consent orders were announced. “Agreements between competitors to limit any dimension of competition can harm consumers through higher prices or lower quality.”
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