independent

Monday 21 April 2014

EU fines firms €1.47bn over TV price fixing

European Union Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia

European competition authorities have slapped a record €1.47bn in fines on six global electronics firms after uncovering a decade-long price fixing scandal.

Philips, LG Electronics, Samsung and three other firms share the record fines for fixing prices of TV and monitor cathode-ray tubes.

The European Commission slapped the biggest penalty of €313.4m on Dutch consumer goods giant Philips yesterday. LG Electronics was hit with a €295m fine.

The EU competition authority fined Panasonic €157.5m, Samsung €151m, Toshiba €28m and French company Technicolor €38.6m. Two Panasonic joint ventures were also fined.

Taiwanese firm Chunghwa Picture Tubes blew the whistle and escaped a fine.

The two cartels, one involving TVs and the other computer monitors, operated worldwide between 1996 and 2006, during which executives discussed how to fix prices and share markets at "green meetings", so-called because the events often ended with a round of golf.

"These cartels for cathode ray tubes are 'textbook cartels': they feature all the worst kinds of anti-competitive behaviour that are strictly forbidden to companies doing business in Europe," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said.

He said the violations were especially harmful for consumers, as cathode-ray tubes accounted for 50 to 70pc of the price of a screen.

Cathode-ray tubes have largely been replaced by more advanced display technologies such as liquid-crystal display (LCD), plasma display and organic light-emitting diodes.

The biggest fine prior to the cathode-ray tube cartel was €1.38bn imposed on a car glass cartel in 2008.

The commission's sanctions followed a total fine of €128.74m levied last year against four producers of the glass used in cathode-ray tubes.

And Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Samsung Electronics, LG Display and three other LCD companies were penalised a total of €648m two years ago for taking part in a cartel.

(Reuters)

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