Six television / CRT monitor makers fined $1.9 billion for EU price fixing

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A group of six electronics makers have collectively been hit with a massive antitrust penalty to the tune of 1.47 billion euros ($1.92 billion), the largest penalty in history in the region. The European Commission claims that representatives from LG Electronics, Panasonic Corp., Philips, Samsung SDI, Technicolor and Toshiba Corp. met on a regular basis up until about six years ago to fix prices and split the market for television and computer monitors that used cathode-ray tubes.

The EC says the companies were essentially running two cartels for almost a decade from 1996 through 2006, meeting in places like Amsterdam, Paris and Rome for “green meetings” that typically ended with a round of golf.

On an individual level, Philips was hit the hardest with a fine of 313.4 million euros followed by LG Electronics at 295.6 million euros. Panasonic Corp must pay 157.5 million euros while Samsung SDI is on the hook for 150.8 million euros. Toshiba Corp. and Technicolor owe 28 million euros and 38.6 million euros, respectively.

Two separate Panasonic joint ventures were also penalized in addition to a joint venture between LG Electronics and Philips that was hit for an additional 391.9 million euros. Philips said they will write off 509 million euros in the fourth quarter but plan to challenge the ruling.

They believe it is disproportionate and unjustified according to chief executive Frans van Houten. It’s worth pointing out that Philips sold the business that committed the crime in 2001 so perhaps they will have a leg to stand on during the challenge.

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