EU imposes 1.47 billion euro cartel fine

 The European Commission imposed the biggest antitrust penalty in its history on Wednesday, fining six firms including Philips, LG Electronics and Samsung SDI for a total of 1.47 billion euros 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.

The EU antitrust regulator imposed the biggest penalty, of 313.4 million euros, on Dutch-based Philips for its role in fixing prices and carving up markets. LG Electronics of South Korea must pay the second biggest fine, set at 295.6 million euros.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement, “These cartels for cathode-ray tubes are 'textbook cartels': they feature all the worst kinds of anti-competitive behaviour that are strictly forbidden to companies doing business in Europe."

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