Glass Makers Fined for Price Fixing

The European Commission issued one of its largest fines against a cartel on Wednesday when it found five acrylic glass makers guilty of colluding and fixing prices.

Arkema of France, formerly known as Atofina; Imperial Chemical Industries and the Lucite International Group of Britain; and Quinn Barlo of Ireland were fined a total of 344.5 million euros ($443 million). Degussa of Germany also participated in the cartel but was not fined because it blew the whistle on the cartel, which ran for five years, and it cooperated in the regulators' investigation, the commission said.

Acrylic glass is sold under trade names like Perspex and Plexiglas and is used in lenses, electronic goods and showers.

Arkema was fined the most, reflecting its central role in coordinating the collusion and because it had previously been found guilty of cartel involvement, the commission said in a statement. The fines for Arkema and Imperial Chemical were increased by 50 percent because they were repeat offenders.

Degussa reported the cartel to the commission at the end of 2002 and admitted its role in the arrangement. The commission, which acts as the European Union's top antitrust authority, said it raided all the companies identified by Degussa and found evidence that the rivals met to fix prices in a hotel in Ireland in 1999, and met in a hotel in Germany the next year.

Imperial Chemical said it was considering appealing the ruling and the fine. It also said it would make a provision for the fine as a special item in its profit statement for the second quarter. The other companies were not immediately available to comment.

600450 Glass Makers Fined for Price Fixing
Date: 2 June 2006

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