Antitrust - Commission fines producers of TV and computer monitor tubes € 1.47 billion for two decade-long cartels: extracts from the press conference by Joaquín ALMUNIA, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Competition
Première transmission: 05/12/2012
Brussels, Belgium - EC/Berlaymont
Fin de production: 05/12/2012
At a press conference today in Brussels, Joaquín Almunia, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Competition, announced that the European Commission decided to fine seven international groups of companies a total of € 1 470 515 000 for participating in either one or both of two distinct cartels in the sector of cathode ray tubes ("CRT").
For almost ten years, between 1996 and 2006, these companies fixed prices, shared markets, allocated customers between themselves and restricted their output. One cartel concerned colour picture tubes used for televisions and the other one colour display tubes used in computer monitors. The cartels operated worldwide.
Chunghwa, LG Electronics, Philips and Samsung SDI participated in both cartels, while Panasonic, Toshiba, MTPD (currently a Panasonic subsidiary) and Technicolor (formerly Thomson) participated only in the cartel for television tubes. These cartels for cathode ray tubes are 'textbook cartels': they feature all the worst kinds of anticompetitive behaviour that are strictly forbidden to companies doing business in Europe, the Vice-President told journalists.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||General view of the press conference room
||SOUNDBITE (English) by Joaquín Almunia, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Competition, saying that today the European Commission has sanctioned two distincted cartels set up by companies producing cathode ray tubes ("CRT"), which are the main components in TV and computer monitors that everyone used before. The seven undertakings sanctioned today operated cartels in these products for almost ten years. Total amount of fine is € 1.47 billion. The fine is the biggest ever in a cartel decision.
||Cutaway of press
||SOUNDBITE (English) by Joaquín Almunia saying that these tubes accounted for 50 to 70% of the price of a screen. This gives an indication of the serious harm these cartels have caused over a decade both to the manufacturers of TVs and computers, and ultimately to final consumers who had to pay a higher price that they should have.
||SOUNDBITE (English) by Joaquín Almunia saying that these two cartels are also among the most organised that the Commission has ever investigated. The meetings took place at various locations in Asia and Europe. The top executives of the companies met in the so-called "green(s) meetings", called this way because they took place very often during golf. The arrangements were then implemented at lower level, through the so-called "glass meetings", on a quarterly, monthly, sometimes even weekly basis.
||SOUNDBITE (English) by Joaquín Almunia saying that today the cartels are getting the sanction they deserve. € 1.1 billion for the TV tubes cartel and € 328 million for the computer monitor tubes cartel. Together they represent the highest total amount the Commission has imposed in a cartel case but these amounts are proportional to the infringements. They reflect the gravity, the turn-over generated though the cartelised product sales and the duration of participation of each company.
||SOUNDBITE (English) by Joaquín Almunia saying that these two cartels are textbook examples of all the worst kind of collusive practices. The participating companies fixed prices, coordinated their output, shared markets and allocated customers between themselves instead of competing with each other to innovate and provide the best products at the best prices. They choose to conspire. This behaviour is totally unacceptable. Cartels are a serious and real threat to Europe's economies. To increase the profits of just a few companies, they deprive citizens and businesses from the benefits of competitive and dynamic markets.