Jan 17, 2024
Eight capacitor manufacturers fined €254m by The European Commission
The European Commission has fined eight producers of capacitors – Elna, Hitachi Chemical, Holy Stone, Matsuo, NEC Tokin, Nichicon, Nippon Chemi-Con, and Rubycon €253million. The Commission says that
The European Commission has fined eight producers of capacitors – Elna, Hitachi Chemical, Holy Stone, Matsuo, NEC Tokin, Nichicon, Nippon Chemi-Con, and Rubycon €253million.
The Commission says that together with the immunity applicant, Sanyo, they operated a cartel for the supply of aluminium and tantalum electrolytic capacitors between 1998 and 2012.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "Capacitors are an essential part of almost all electronic products, ranging from smart phones to appliances in our homes, electronic systems in our cars and wind turbines producing electricity.
“The nine companies fined today colluded to maximise their profits. This may have happened not only at the expense of manufacturers but also of consumers. Our decision again makes clear that we will not tolerate anti-competitive conduct that may affect European consumers, even if anticompetitive contacts take place outside Europe."
The Commission's investigation found that from 1998 to 2012, nine Japanese companies participated in multilateral meetings and engaged in bilateral or trilateral contacts to exchange commercially sensitive information. The objective was to coordinate future behaviour and avoid price competition. The Commission says the companies exchanged information on future prices and pricing intentions, and on future supply and demand information. In some instances, the participants also concluded price agreements and monitored their implementation.
The investigation found that the cartel participants were aware of the anti-competitive nature of their behaviour, which the Commission says was evidenced by their intention to conceal it.
The meetings and contacts took place mainly in Japan, but the cartel conduct was implemented on a global scale, including in the European Economic Area (EEA).
In setting the level of fines, the Commission says it took into account, in particular, the companies' sales of capacitors in the EEA; the serious nature of the infringement; its geographic scope covering the whole EEA; and its long duration. Further detail of the fines can be found, here.
The Commission has also set up by a tool to make it easier for individuals to alert it about anti-competitive behaviour, while maintaining their anonymity. Click here to access the whistleblowing tool.