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Toshiba, Sony lose court fight against EU cartel fine

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BRUSSELS — Toshiba, Sony and Samsung Electronics on Thursday lost their court fight against an EU cartel fine levied seven years ago for colluding in procurement tenders for optical disc drives.

The European Commission in 2015 fined five companies 116 million euros ($120.5 million), with the biggest fine of 41.3 million euros going to Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology, a joint venture of Toshiba and Samsung Electronics.

Hitachi-LG Data Storage was fined 37 million euros. Other sanctioned companies were Sony, Sony Optiarc which is a joint venture between Sony and NEC, and Quanta Storage. Philips avoided a fine as it alerted the cartel to the EU competition enforcer.

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The Commission said the collusion concerned optical disk drives for laptops and desktops produced by Dell and Hewlett Packard.

The General Court in 2019 agreed with the Commission’s finding of a cartel and threw out the companies’ challenge.

Sony, Sony Optiarc, Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology and Quanta Storage subsequently appealed to the EU Court of Justice (CJEU), Europe’s highest.

The Luxembourg-based EU Court of Justice (CJEU), Europe’s top court, backed the EU penalties.

“None of the elements relied on by the participants in the cartel, nor any ground of public policy, justifies it (CJEU) making use of its unlimited jurisdiction to reduce that amount,” the CJEU said with regard to the fines.

Judges however partially annulled some of the EU competition enforcer’s decision.

“The Commission failed to satisfy its obligation to state reasons by finding that, in addition to their participation in a single and continuous infringement, the undertakings concerned also participated in several separate infringements,” they said.

($1 = 0.9626 euros) (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Carmel Crimmins)



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