Graco settles FTC antitrust charges

  • Article by: STEVE ALEXANDER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 18, 2013 - 8:08 PM

Allegations stemmed from Graco acquisitions in 2005 and 2008; company will pay no fine.

 

Graco Inc. said Thursday it has settled Federal Trade Commission antitrust charges involving two Graco acquisitions that allegedly harmed competition among makers of equipment for applying foams or coatings that insulate homes.

The FTC charged that Graco violated antitrust laws by acquiring Gusmer Corp. in 2005 and GlasCraft Inc. in 2008. The FTC said the two firms were Graco’s closest competitors in the North American market for equipment used by contractors to apply insulation made of polyurethane foams and polyurea coatings.

Minneapolis-based Graco, which makes industrial paint sprayers, pumps and insulation applicators, said in a statement that the settlement was “non-monetary’’ and that the company admitted no wrongdoing.

“There is not going to be a fine or any material expense to Graco,” company spokesman Bryce Hallowell said in an interview Thursday.

In a separate statement Thursday, Richard Feinstein, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, said: “The clear result [of the acquisitions] was higher prices and diminished choices for consumers.”

Graco’s Hallowell said that although the FTC said the settlement was designed to restore competition, “we believe that this market remains highly competitive.”

The company also said it settled with the FTC to spare itself the legal costs of defending a spray foam equipment business that accounted for less than 5 percent of its fourth-quarter sales.

The FTC said that the settlement requires Graco to license some of its technology to a competitor, and that it must allow all competitors easier access to North American equipment distributors. The FTC had charged that Graco discouraged distributors of its products from carrying the products of competitors.

Graco said that Thursday’s settlement with the FTC is unrelated to another FTC review that involves Graco’s 2012 acquisition of the finishing business unit of Illinois Tool Works.

 

Steve Alexander • 612-673-4553

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