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Bosch to sell business to settle FTC charges

Mon, 11/26/2012 - 2:38pm
The Associated Press

Germany's Robert Bosch GmbH will sell a business that makes equipment used to recharge vehicle air conditioning systems in order to settle charges that its acquisition of a similar company would have given it an overwhelming share of that market, the Federal Trade Commission said Monday.

Under the agreement, Bosch also will grant manufacturers licenses to key patents needed to compete in the market for the equipment. The proposed settlement also requires Bosch to end agreements that bar other companies from advertising, servicing, distributing, or selling competing products in the U.S., the FTC said.

Bosch announced in January its plans to buy the automotive services division of U.S.-based SPX Corp. for about $1.15 billion in cash. As of January, the business had about 2,700 employees in 17 countries, primarily in the U.S., Germany, France, and China.

But the FTC claimed that the deal as originally proposed would have given Bosch a "virtual monopoly" in the market for air conditioning recycling, recovery, and recharge devices. The devices are used to remove refrigerant from a vehicle's air conditioning system, store it while the system is being serviced, recycle it back into the system and recharge the system.

Under the proposed settlement, Bosch will sell its automotive air conditioner repair equipment business, including York, Pa.-based RTI Technologies Inc., to automotive equipment maker Mahle Clevite Inc. of Ann Arbor, Mich. Bosch acquired RTI in 2010 and sells air conditioning recycling, recovery, and recharge equipment under both the Bosch and RTI brands, accounting for about 10 percent of that market.

Bosch said in a statement Monday that it intends to comply with all the aspects of the FTC's order.

The commission's vote approving the proposed settlement order was 3-2. The order will be subject to public comment for 30 days, after which the commission will decide whether to make it final.

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