Battery makers fined EUR 166m for cartel
(BRUSSELS) - Sony, Panasonic and Sanyo received fines of EUR 166 million Tuesday for coordinating prices and exchanging sensitive information on supplies of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.
The European Commission said the companies, with Samsung SDI, breached EU antitrust rules on the batteries, which are used for example in laptops and mobile phones.
"Millions of Europeans use laptops, mobile phones and power tools that run on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, said the EU's Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager: "Today's decision sanctions four rechargeable battery producers whose collusion affected the prices of a number of goods sold to European consumers. It also sends an important signal to companies: if European consumers are affected by a cartel, the Commission will investigate it even if the anticompetitive contacts took place outside Europe."
Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are the most common type of rechargeable batteries used in portable electronic and electrical devices. They can be divided into three types depending on their usage and demand. Cylindrical lithium-ion batteries are for example used in larger devices such as laptops and power tools, whereas smaller devices, like smartphones and tablets, use prismatic or polymer lithium-ion batteries. All these types of battery were affected by the cartel.
Samsung did not itself receive a fine because it revealed the existence of the cartel to the Commission under a 2006 Leniency Notice.
Sony, Panasonic and Sanyo benefited from reductions of their fines in return for their cooperation with the Commission's investigation under the Leniency Notice.
All companies have acknowledged their involvement in the cartel and agreed to settle the case.
Under the Commission's 2008 Settlement Notice, the Commission applied a reduction of 10% to the fines imposed in view of the parties' acknowledgement of their participation in the cartel and of their liability in this respect.
The cartel contacts took place mainly in Asia and occasionally in Europe. The cartel started in February 2004 and lasted until November 2007.
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