FTC says largest propane suppliers conspired to drive up prices at Wal-Mart

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Federal Trade Commission says two leading suppliers of propane-exchange tanks colluded to raise the prices at Wal-Mart stores.

FTC says AmeriGas and Blue Rhino, which together controlled about 80 percent of the market for wholesale propane-exchange tanks in the United States in 2008, each reduced the amount of propane that was in their exchange tanks that year to 15 pounds from 17 pounds, but they didn’t decrease the wholesale price correspondingly.

Wal-Mart refused to accept the reduction, but FTC says AmeriGas and Blue Rhino continued with their plans and communicated with each other for several months to pressure the retail giant to accept the reduction. As a result, the price per pound for propane increased for Wal-Mart customers.

FTC didn’t say whether such a dynamic still exists.