Steimatzky CEO Iris Barel questioned under caution

CEO has been questioned under caution for allegedly violating the terms of merger with bookstore chain Sifri.

Bookcase 311 (photo credit: MCT)
Bookcase 311
(photo credit: MCT)
The Antitrust Authority investigation into bookseller Steimatzky Ltd. has taken a dramatic turn. Sources inform Globes that Steimatzky CEO Iris Barel and another executive have been questioned under caution for allegedly violating the terms of its merger with bookstore chain Sifri. Questioning under caution indicates that the Antitrust Authority believes that it has grounds for an indictment.
Steimatzky and Tzomet Sfarim Ltd. have been waging a price war. In early July 2011, Steimatzky allegedly demanded exclusivity from publishers on books sold in sales campaigns, which would result in Steimatzky's competitors being forced to sell the books at full price. An industry source said the case involves hundreds of titles.
Some publishers, including Yediot Aharonot Publishing House Ltd., Keter Books Ltd., Matar Books Ltd., and Kibbutz Hameuhad Publishing House, allegedly agreed to Steimatzky's demand.
In response, Tzomet Sfarim told publishers that it would not carry their books if the acceded to Steimatzky's demands. It also filed a complaint with the Antitrust Authority, which notified publishers that their conduct was illegal and constituted a cartel.
Steimatzky withdrew its demand after a meeting with the Book Publishers Association of Israel.
Antitrust Authority director general David Gilo ordered an investigation against Steimatzky, as one of the conditions of Steimatky's merger with Sifri was non-intervention in publishers' relations with bookstores and chains.
Steimatzky declined to comment on the report.