Asahi Glass And Nippon Sheet Glass Rise On Smaller Fine

Nippon Sheet Glass and Asahi Glass rose in Tokyo trading after the two largest Asian glassmakers were fined a smaller-than-expected €205 million, or $304 million, by the European Union for price-fixing.

Nippon Sheet Glass rose 9.1 percent to ¥597 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, its biggest gain since March 4, 2002. The stock was the biggest gainer in the Nikkei 225 Stock Average. Asahi Glass rose 7.1 percent to ¥1,508, the most since May 11, 2004. The European Commission, the EU's antitrust regulator, fined Nippon Sheet's U.K.-based Pilkington unit €140 million and Asahi Glass €65 million.

Cie. de Saint-Gobain and Guardian Industries, along with the two Japanese companies, were fined a total of €487 million for fixing the price of glass used in the construction industry, and may face further penalties for forming a cartel in the automotive industry. Nippon Sheet Glass on May 22 said it had set aside £350 million, or $727 million, for possible fines in the two investigations.

"The fines for Nippon Sheet Glass and Asahi Glass were smaller than anticipated," Masao Yoshida, an analyst at Okasan Securities, said by telephone in Tokyo Thursday. He rates the shares of Asahi Glass "above average" and Nippon Sheet Glass "below average."

In mid-March, the commission accused Nippon Sheet, Asahi Glass, Guardian and Saint-Gobain of conspiring at a series of meetings from early 2004 to early 2005 to set the price of glass used in windows, glass doors and mirrors.

Asahi Glass's Brussels-based AGC Flat Glass Europe unit said yesterday it cooperated with the EU for a fine reduction. The commission did not disclose the amount it cut from Asahi's fine.

Asahi Glass, which has not received the full text of the regulator's decision, "will decide the future course of action after receiving the text and examining it," Yoshihiko Saito, a spokesman for the Tokyo-based company, said Thursday by telephone. The impact on earnings will be released later, Saito said, without giving a time frame.

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