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Court confirms Toshiba, Panasonic fine for cathode ray tubes cartel

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Court confirms Toshiba, Panasonic fine for cathode ray tubes cartel

Photo © James Steidl - Fotolia

(LUXEMBOURG) - Europe's top Court confirmed Wednesday a fine of EUR 82 million imposed jointly and severally on Toshiba and Panasonic for their part in a cartel on the market for tubes for television sets.

In2012, the European Commission imposed fines totalling approximately €1.47 billion on seven undertakings which had taken part in one or two separate cartels on the market for cathode ray tubes (‘CRTs’) between 1996/1997 and 2006. A CRT is an evacuated glass envelope containing an electron gun and a fluorescent screen.

At the time, two different types of CRT: colour display tubes for computer monitors (‘CDTs’) and colour picture tubes for television sets (‘CPTs’) were essential components for the production of computer monitors or colour televisions.

Those types of CRT were the subject of two infringements, namely a CDT cartel and a CPT cartel. The cartels consisted, in essence, of price-fixing, market and customer-sharing and output limitations. The cartel regularly exchanged commercially sensitive information.

The Commission imposed a fine of €28 048 000 on Toshiba individually, and a fine of €86 738 000 on Toshiba jointly and severally with Panasonic and their joint subsidiary, MTPD.

In 2015, the EU's General Court annulled the fine of €28 048 000 imposed on Toshiba individually and reduced from €86 738 000 to €82 826 000 the fine imposed jointly and severally on Toshiba and Panasonic/MTPD.

 

Toshiba had asked the Court of Justice to set aside the judgment of the General Court and to annul the fine imposed jointly and severally, saying was not in a position to exercise decisive influence over MTPD and could not be held liable for the infringement committed by MTPD.

The Court has now ruled Toshiba’s appeal inadmissible and confirmed the fine of more than €82 million imposed jointly and severally on Toshiba and Panasonic/MTPD.

The ruling agrees with the General Court that the parent companies are to be regarded as having exercised decisive influence over their subsidiary.

The Court also held that the General Court did not err in law in concluding that Toshiba had a right of veto over MTPD’s business plan for the entire duration of its existence.

The Court also confirmed the General Court’s analysis that the possibility for a parent company (Toshiba) to prohibit its subsidiary (MTPD) from taking decisions involving outlays which appear relatively modest in the light of that subsidiary’s capital constitutes an indication of the capacity to exercise decisive influence over that subsidiary.

Lastly, the General Court was right to take the view that Toshiba’s appointment of one of the two directors entitled to represent MTPD (namely the vice-president of that undertaking) was an indication of Toshiba’s capacity to exercise decisive influence over MTPD’s conduct.

Judgment in Case C-623/15 P - Toshiba Corp. v Commission


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