China has recently launched an anti-corruption crackdown

China has recently launched an anti-corruption crackdown

Two of China's leading baijiu makers have been fined CNY449m (US$72m) for price fixing, according to state media.

Local price regulators ordered Kweichew Moutai and Wuliangye to pay CNY247m and CNY202m respectively, the China Daily reported on Saturday (23 February). It is the biggest fine since China's anti-monopoly laws were introduced in 2008, the newspaper said.

The report added that the fines, which represent 1% of the companies' annual sales, could have been bigger as the anti-monopoly laws allow for a penalty of up to 10% of annual sales.

Torsten Stocker, partner at strategy consulting firm Monitor-Deloitte Greater China, told just-drinks that the ruling is unusual because, in the past, the Chinese Government “has not paid too much attention to this type of channel price setting, which is banned under China’s anti-monopoly law”. 

He added that baijiu makers have been hit hard recently by the government’s measures to limit the number of official occasions during which white spirit is consumed.

Late last year, China launched a crackdown on high-level luxury banquets, bringing down Moutai's share price.