Euro court rejects cartel firms' appeal

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17 July 2011 | Angeline Albert

The European Court has dismissed appeals by three lift and escalator manufacturers against fines imposed by the European Commission for price-fixing.

It rejected the actions brought by manufacturers Otis, Kone  and Schindler, who have been fined €224.9 million (£197 million), €142 million (£124.6 million) and €143.7 million (£126 million) respectively for their role in the cartel.

This upheld the European Commission’s (EC) 2007 decision to fine five firms - Otis, Kone, Mitsubishi Electric, Schindler and ThyssenKrupp - a total of €992 million (£870 million) relating to their involvement in four separate anti-competitive infringements in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

The companies agreed to fix prices, share markets and rig bids for procurement contracts for the sale, installation and servicing of lifts and escalators between 1995 and 2004. They agreed not to compete with each other and exchanged commercially sensitive information. The EC said the cartel had a significant effect on trade and welcomed the ruling.

Schindler said it would analyse the judgement and appeal to the highest European court.

ThyssenKrupp’s fine was reduced by 50 per cent, because the Court found it was not involved in an earlier breach. The penalty was reduced from €480 million (£420 million) to €320 million (£280 million). "We welcome the fact that the European Court has followed our arguments in part and determined that the repeat offender surcharge for ThyssenKrupp was not justified," said a company statement.

Kone said it would examine the Court’s decision before taking further action. Otis has not yet made an announcement.

Mitsubishi Electric did not appeal against the initial fine of €1.8 million (£1.5 million) from the EC.

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