What Prompted the EU to Impose This Hefty Fine?

GavelPhilips (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.

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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.

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