Electronic firms fined €1.47bn by EU

Royal Philips Electronics and LG Electronics are among companies fined a record €1.47bn by EU anti-trust regulators over price-fixing agreements of now-obsolete cathode-ray tubes used in televisions and computer monitors.

Philips was fined €313.4m while LG faces a €295.6m penalty, said the European Commission yesterday.

Philips and LG also share a fine of €391.9m for a unit they jointly owned.

Panasonic was fined €157.5m and shares an €86.7m punishment with Toshiba and MTPD, a Panasonic unit. Panasonic and MTPD also share a €7.9m fine.

Joaquin Almunia, EU competition commissioner, explained in a statement: “Cathode-ray tubes were a very important component in the making of television and computer screens. They accounted for 50 to 70% of the price of a screen.”

Sales of cathode-ray tubes fell after customers switched to slimmer liquid- crystal and plasma display sets. Philips and Technicolor, previously Thomson SA, received objections in the EU probe in 2009. Antitrust watchdogs in the EU, Japan, and South Korea raided companies in 2007 over concerns they colluded to fix prices.

Joost Akkermans, spokes- man for 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.

Samsung SDI Co Ltd, was also told to pay €150.8m. Toshiba was separately fined €28m and Technicolor SA was fined €38.6m. Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd was not punished as 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 co-operating with the probe, the EU said.


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