Philips, LG Among Culprits as EU Levies Record Antitrust Fines
By Aoife White – Dec 5, 2012 6:29 AM ET
Royal Philips Electronics NV (PHIA) and LG Electronics Inc. (066570) are among companies fined a record 1.47 billion euros ($1.9 billion) by European Union antitrust regulators over price-fixing agreements of now-obsolete cathode-ray tubes used in televisions and computer monitors.
Philips was fined 313.4 million euros while LG faces a 295.6 million-euro penalty, the European Commission said in a statement today. Philips and LG also share a fine of 391.9 million euros for a unit they jointly owned. Panasonic Corp. (6752) was fined 157.5 million euros and shares an 86.7 million-euro punishment with Toshiba Corp. and MTPD, a Panasonic unit. Panasonic and MTPD also share a 7.9 million-euro fine.
Sales of cathode-ray tubes used in televisions and computer monitors fell after customers switched to slimmer liquid-crystal and plasma display sets. Photographer: Jacob Kepler/Bloomberg
“Cathode-ray tubes were a very important component in the making of television and computer screens. They accounted for 50 to 70 percent of the price of a screen,” said EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia in the statement.
Sales of cathode-ray tubes used in televisions and computer monitors fell after customers switched to slimmer liquid-crystal and plasma display sets. Philips and Technicolor, previously known as Thomson SA, received objections in the EU probe in 2009. Antitrust watchdogs in the EU, Japan and South Korearaided companies in 2007 over concerns they colluded to fix prices.
Joost Akkermans, a spokesman for Amsterdam-based Philips, said the fine was “disproportionate and unjustified” and related to a unit it divested in 2001. Philips will appeal the EU decision, he said in a telephone interview.
Samsung SDI Co. Ltd., an affiliate of Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., was also told to pay 150.8 million euros. Toshiba was separately fined 28 million euros and Technicolor SA (TCH) was fined 38.6 million euros. Chunghwa Picture Tubes (2475) Ltd. wasn’t punished because it was the first to inform regulators of the cartel.
Top management meetings between the companies to fix prices were often followed by a golf game, the EU said in statement. The firms fixed prices, shared markets, allocated customers between them and restricted their own output in two worldwide cartels between 1996 and 2006.
Samsung SDI, Philips and Technicolor received reductions to their fines for cooperating with the investigation, the EU said.
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