The European Commission has published a summary of its decision in relation to a cartel for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries (LiB’s) involving Samsung, Sony, Panasonic and Sanyo.
The Commission found that the cartel consisted of a series of anti-competitive contacts between the parties, including occasional price-related contacts and/or regular exchanges of commercially sensitive market information.
The companies also discussed their intentions to participate in particular competitive bidding events organised by specific customers. In the context of these discussions, they occasionally disclosed prices they submitted or intended to submit as well as coordinated the appropriate timing to launch agreed price increases. From 2004 – 2007 the price of cobalt increased, which resulted in the parties reaching an agreement on temporary price increases of LiB’s during that period.
Samsung applied to the Commission for full immunity from fines and was the first to submit information and evidence. As a result its fine was reduced by 100%. The other parties also received some reduction in their fines.
The fines imposed on the cartel totalled EUR 165,841,000 made up as follows:
- Sony Corporation, Sony Energy Devices Corporation, Sony Electronics Inc. and Sony Taiwan Limited jointly and severally liable: EUR 29 802 000;
- Panasonic Corporation and Panasonic Automotive & Industrial Systems Europe GmbH jointly and severally liable: EUR 38 890 000;
- Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd, Panasonic Industrial Devices Sales Taiwan Co., Ltd and Panasonic Automotive & Industrial Systems Europe GmbH jointly and severally liable: EUR 97 149 000.
Guidance for businesses on how to comply with the Competition Act and further information on cartels can be found here.