The European Commission has imposed fines totaling a record-setting $1.92 billion on six CRT manufacturers, including Philips Electronics, Samsung, Panasonic, and LG Electronics. The commission says the companies met over a period of ten years to set prices for their products.
Foo Yun Chee from Reuters reported, “The European Commission imposed the biggest antitrust penalty in its history on Wednesday, fining six firms including Philips, LG Electronics and Panasonic a total of 1.47 billion euros ($1.92 billion) for running two cartels for nearly a decade. The Commission said executives from the European and Asian companies met until six years ago to fix prices and divide up markets for TV and computer monitor cathode-ray tubes, technology now mostly made obsolete by flat screens. Between 1996 and 2006 they met in Paris, Rome, Amsterdam and in Asia for ‘green meetings,’ so-called because they often ended in a round of golf.”
According to the BBC, “Dutch-based Philips faces the biggest penalty of 313.4m euros, followed by LG Electronics with 295.6m. Other members of the cartels included Panasonic, Samsung, Toshiba, and Technicolor. Taiwanese firm Chunghwa Picture Tubes escaped a potential 17m-euro fine for blowing the whistle on the cartel.”
Bloomberg BusinessWeek quoted EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, who said, “These tubes accounted for 50 to 70 percent of the price of a screen. This gives an indication of the serious harm that 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 than they should have.”
And Almunia told The Wall Street Journal, “These cartels for cathode ray tubes are ‘textbook cartels’: They feature all the worst kinds of anticompetitive behavior that are strictly forbidden to companies doing business in Europe.”