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Sat, Sep 03, 2005 - Page 12 News List

Japan closes probe into French luxury goods maker LVMH


Japan said yesterday it had ended an investigation into alleged anti-competitive practices at French luxury goods maker LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton after failing to find clear evidence of wrong-doing.

Leading US handbag maker Coach filed a complaint with the FTC in March, accusing LVMH of interfering with talks between Coach Japan and department store operators over opening up or increasing space for its outlets.

"We ended the investigation without any action, meaning that we couldn't find concrete evidence that Louis Vuitton violated the anti-competition law," an official at Japan's Fair Trade Commission said.

Earlier Coach, which has overtaken Gucci to rank second in Japan's cutthroat imported handbag market behind LVMH, said it had been informed by the FTC this week that it had ended its probe.

"Coach believes its filing with the FTC and the subsequent investigation have served Coach's primary goal, which was to send a strong message that Coach will not tolerate any actions that limit consumer choice," the US company said.

The statement by Coach triggered an angry response from LVMH, which described the US company's comments as "egregious and self-serving."

"This development would confirm that Coach's allegations were entirely baseless and that LVMH's commercial practices in Japan are beyond reproach, as they have always been," the French company said in a statement.

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