EU slaps record cartel fines on Toshiba, Panasonic, 4 others

Posted at 12/06/2012 1:40 PM | Updated as of 12/06/2012 1:40 PM

BRUSSELS - The European Union on Wednesday imposed record cartel fines of 1.47 billion euros (about 160 billion yen) on six companies, including Toshiba Corp. and Panasonic Corp., claiming they fixed prices globally for television and computer monitor cathode ray tubes over 10 years.

The European Commission ruled that a total of seven consumer appliance makers in Asia and Europe artificially set prices, divided up the market and adjusted production of cathode ray tubes from 1996 to 2006 in breach of EU competition law, fining six of the seven companies.

A Taiwan company escaped being fined as it was the first to reveal the cartel to the European Union. The other companies fined include Samsung SDI and LG Electronics of South Korea.

The European Commission said in a statement that the companies' actions demonstrated "all the worst kinds of anticompetitive behavior that are strictly forbidden to companies doing business in Europe."

Top executives of the companies were involved in the anticompetitive behavior, it said.

Panasonic was fined 157.47 million euros, with Toshiba punished with a 28.04 million euro fine.

Both the Japanese companies questioned the commission's findings. Panasonic said in a statement, "After fully examining the content of the European Commission's decision, we will consider how to deal with this with an eye to filing a lawsuit with a court of the EU."

Toshiba said it has been asserting that there was no breach of EU competition law with regard to its cathode ray tube business and it is "regrettable" that its argument was rejected.

TV and computer monitor screens have been replaced with liquid crystal and plasma displays, and production of cathode ray tubes has almost ended.

==Kyodo