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Electronics Production | October 21, 2011

CRT glass producers fined 128 Eur million

The European Commission has settled a cartel investigation with four producers of cathode ray tubes glass used in televisions and computer screens. Japanese firms Asahi Glass and Nippon Electric and Germany's Schott AG were fined a total of € 128 736 000 for operating a cartel that affected consumers in Europe.
The cartel breached Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU and Article 53 of the EEA agreement. The fine on all three companies includes a reduction of 10% for acknowledging their participation in the cartel, thereby helping the Commission to conclude the case more rapidly. Samsung Corning Precision Materials of Korea was granted full immunity for being the first to give information about the cartel.

Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia said: “I commend the companies' readiness to settle which enabled the Commission to conclude the case more rapidly and won them a reduction of the fine. But firms should be under no illusion about the Commission's resolve to fight cartels and impose fines that should deter them from breaching competition rules in the EU."

The cartel lasted from 23 February 1999 until 27 December 2004 and coordinated the prices for CRT glass in the European Economic Area. The product concerned, also known as bulb glass, was bought by producers of cathode ray tubes to use in traditional TVs and computer screens. The investigation started at the end of 2008.

The cartel was operated on the basis of bilateral or trilateral meetings, organised at the request of the members. The cartel members supplemented their price coordination activities with the exchange, on an ad hoc basis, of confidential and sensitive market information.

For the infringement, Asahi Glass was fined € 45 135 000, Nippon Electric € 43 200 000 and Schott AG € 40 401 000.

The decision recognized the full participation SCP, but the firm received full immunity under the Commission's 2006 Leniency Notice. The fine on NEG includes a 50% reduction, also for cooperation under the Leniency Notice. Schott was granted a reduction of 18% for its cooperation outside the Leniency Notice. The fines on AGC and Schott also recognise that they were not involved in all aspects of the cartel.

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