What Prompted the EU to Impose This Hefty Fine?
Philips (NYSE:PHG), LG Electronics, Samsung SDI, Toshiba (TOSBF.PK), Panasonic (NYSE:PC), and French company Technicolor (TCLRY.PK) were fined a total of 1.47 billion euros, or $1.92 billion, by the European Commission for operating two cartels. The Commission imposed the largest penalty in its history after determining that the six companies fixed prices for television and computer monitor cathode-ray tubes for nearly a decade.
“These cartels for cathode-ray tubes are ‘textbook cartels': they feature all the worst kinds of anti-competitive behavior that are strictly forbidden to companies doing business in Europe,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement seen by Reuters.
According to the publication’s report, executives from the six electronics manufacturers met between 1996 and 2006 in capitals across Europe and Asia to divide up the cathode-ray tube market. These conferences were known as “green meetings” because they were often finished with a round of golf.
While larger than any previous fine, the Commission’s cartel penalty was not without precedent. In 2008, it fined participants in a car glass cartel 1.38 billion euros, and Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Samsung Electronics (SSNLF.PK), LG Display (NYSE:LPL), and three other LCD companies were fined 648 million euros two years ago for anti-competitive behavior.