28 June 2000
Sell-off or price freeze for Wiseman?

By FWi staff

SCOTTISH dairy giant Robert Wiseman could be forced to sell off part of its business or freeze prices if it is found to be running a monopoly.

These suggestions are offered by the Competition Commission in its inquiry into milk supplies in Scotland, reports the PA news agency.

Investigations centre on whether Wiseman, which has an estimated 70%-85% share of the Scottish milk market, acted in an anti-competitive way.

As part of the probe, the commission has sent a list of “remedies” which could be used if it finds Wiseman is operating against the public interest.

The commission stresses that it recommendations are “entirely hypothetical” and has asked Wiseman to comment on them.

Wiseman could sell part of its processing capacity in Scotland, or part of its business supplying retailers other than the big supermarkets, it suggests.

The dairy company is also asked to consider freezing prices to retailers, and maintain any price reductions given to customers since the end of 1998 for the next three years.

Another measure suggested is that Wiseman could be stopped from buying more processing plants in Scotland.

In May the commission said Wiseman had been operating a monopoly north of the border, but had yet to decide if it had exploited this position.

No conclusions will be reached until the commission submit its report to the Trade and Industry Secretary, Stephen Byers on 2 November.