Offshore cable companies hit by EUR 302 million cartel fine

EUROPE: The European Commission (EC) has fined a number of offshore wind cable companies for involvement in a price-fixing cartel.

The cartel allocated cabling projects to push up the price
The cartel allocated cabling projects to push up the price

The ten firms, including Nexans, J-Power Systems and Prysmian, will have to pay a total of EUR 302 million in fines for the illegal activities between 1999 and 2009.

While ABB took part in the practices, it has been granted full immunity from a suggested EUR 33 million fine, as it was the first company to reveal the practices to the commission.

When approaching offshore wind developers and other customers the companies would share markets and allocate customers in order to undermine competition and push prices up.

The firms struck agreements such as that European and Asian producers would stay out of each other's home territories. European companies also agreed to allocate projects within the European Economic Area.

Prysmian has been hit with the biggest fine, having to pay EUR 105 million. Nexans said it is considering appealing its EUR 71 million fine. The other companies are Viscas, Exsym, Brugg, NKT, Silec, LS Cable and Taihan.

Joaquín Almunia, EC vice president in charge of competition policy, said: "These companies knew very well that what they were doing was illegal. This is why they acted cautiously and with great secrecy."

Several companies that took part in the infringement and later merged their activities into joint ventures are also held liable, as well as parent companies of the producers involved. This includes investment bank Goldman Sachs, the former owner of Prysmian.

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