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EU fines TV, computer screen cartel with €1.47 Billion

Philips, LG Electronics, Samsung SDI and three other firms were fined a record €1.47 billion by EU antitrust regulators on Wednesday (5 December) for fixing prices of TV and monitor cathode-ray tubes for nearly a decade.

The European Commission slapped the biggest penalty, of €313.4 million, on Dutch-based Philips. LG Electronics came in second with a €295.6 million fine.

The EU competition authority fined Panasonic Corp €157.5 million, Samsung SDI €150.8 million, Toshiba Corp. €28 million, and French company Technicolor €38.6 million.

Two Panasonic joint ventures were also fined. Taiwanese firm Chunghwa Picture Tubes blew the whistle on the cartels in TV and computer monitors and escaped a fine.

Philips announced that it will take a provision of €509 million in the fourth quarter this year to cover the fine, saying it intends to appeal the decision by the EU’s antitrust authorities.

The two cartels, one involving TVs and the other computer monitors, operated worldwide between 1996 and 2006, during which company 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 in a statement. (full report EurActiv)

The violations were especially harmful for consumers, as cathode ray tubes accounted for 50 to 70% of the price of a screen. And thus for a whole decade.

PS Hey, give us our money back!

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One comment

  1. The fine is yet another tax on the European consumer. The only money the European branches of these companies have is from their European customers. A fine on a company is ultimately a fine on the consumer. Any increase in operating costs will always be paid by the customers, one way or another.