EC imposes record fine on glass cartel

17 November 2008

17 November 2008 | Paul Snell

The European Commission (EC) has fined four glass manufacturers more than €1.3 billion (£1.1 billion) for their involvement in an automotive glass cartel.

The Commission said the four suppliers - Asahi, Pilkington, Saint-Gobain and Soliver - discussed co-ordinating prices, dividing up the market and allocating customers in a series of secret meetings across Europe between 1998 and 2003.

"These companies cheated the car industry and car buyers for five years in a market worth €2 billion in the last year of the cartel," said EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes. "Management and shareholders of companies that damage consumers and European industry by running cartels must learn their lessons the hard way - if you cheat, you will get a heavy fine."

The EC increased Saint-Gobain's fine by 60 per cent because of previous offences, forcing them to pay €896 million (£760 million). Pilkington was given a €370 million (£314 million) fine. Asahi's punishment was reduced by half after co-operating with the Commission and provided additional information for the investigation, but the firm was still fined €113.5 million (£96.2 million). Soliver was fined €4.3 million (£3.6 million) because it took part in only some of the discussions.

* The US Department of Justice has fined three electronics manufacturers - LG Display, Sharp and Chunghwa Picture Tubes - $585 million (£392 million) after they pleaded guilty to fixing the prices of LCD panels between 2001 and 2006.

LG Display will pay $400 million (£268 million), the second largest anti-trust fine ever imposed by the department, Sharp $120 million (£80.5 million) and Chunghwa Picture Tubes $65 million (£43.5 million). The worldwide market for panels, used in computers, televisions and mobile phones, was estimated to be worth $70 billion (£47 billion) in 2006.

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