EU antitrust regulators have fined seven companies a record 1.47 billion euros ($1.9 billion) over price-fixing deals on cathode-ray tubes (aka CRT) televisions and computer monitors. The EU said in a statement that meetings among the companies' top management in Asia and Europe to fix prices were often followed by a golf game. The price fixing took place between 1996 and 2006, and the deals also involved agreements for customer allocation and the restriction of production output.
The companies fined for price fixing include Philips, LG Electronics, Samsung, Panasonic, Toshiba, Technicolor and MTPD.
The anticompetitive behavior that actually prompted the fines is ancient history in the fast-paced consumer electronics industry. Focused on yesterday’s fat TVs — yes, the CRT ones that actually aimed electron guns at viewers — the price-fixing actually ended six years ago. But while the wheels of justice may move slowly, they do move, according to EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia.
“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,” Almunia said in a statement.
Philips earned the biggest fine, €313 million, as one of the ringleaders, while LG was fined €295 million. Panasonic’s penalty was smaller but still very substantial, at €157 million, and Samsung will be forced to pay €151 million.