The mainland counterfeiting industry has grown so big and aggressive that multinationals there are banding together to fight a threat they claim is destroying profits and brands inside and outside the country. Counterfeiting has reached such a scale that big investors say they are being forced to suspend new investments because profits from existing ones are falling. The China Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition - an ad hoc group formed by foreign companies in 1998 - was this week formally registered as the Quality Brands Protection Committee. The 28 multinational members, with investments totalling US$6 billion, hope the results of a nationwide investigation - due to be revealed next month - will clearly show the extent of the problem and force mainland leaders to mount a campaign similar to that conducted against smuggling. Some members are planning to organise a delegation of chief executives to lobby President Jiang Zemin and Prime Minister Zhu Rongji. In the past few years counterfeiting in the mainland has got so out of control that the group believes its severity has no historical parallels. 'Total annual losses from counterfeiting in the PRC are probably in the tens of billions of dollars per year and hundreds of billions of yuan,' claims a coalition fact sheet. 'Over the past decade there has been a sharp rise in the export of counterfeit products from the PRC to locations around the world, making this a global problem.' Companies such as Procter & Gamble (P&G), which thought they were losing 15 to 20 per cent of sales to counterfeiters, have hired teams of investigators and now say this was a very conservative estimate. 'It could be 15 to 40 per cent of the brands on shelves are made by counterfeiters,' said William Dobson, P&G vice-president for public affairs and vice-chairman of the Quality Brands Protection Committee. 'We think we are losing about $150 million a year in sales.' Committee chairman Joseph Johnson, president of China Operations for Bestfoods, said: 'Not too many foreign investors are making money here and counterfeiting is one reason.' German giant Henkel has invested about $500 million over 10 years and is now considering halting further investments. 'We have invested in factories, brands, people and when we get successful, others take over and get the market and the margins,' said its director of special projects Dietrich Ohlmeyer. Nike estimates counterfeiters export 150,000 pairs of shoes a year to Europe and Africa. 'For every real Nike product in China, there is a fake,' said Patrick Wang, Nike's chief representative in Beijing.