Saint-Gobain wins 165 million euro cut in record EU cartel fine

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LUXEMBOURG (Bloomberg) -- French supplier Saint-Gobain won a 165 million euro ($227 million) reduction in its record 880 million euro EU antitrust fine for fixing car-glass prices.

The supplier was punished too harshly for being a repeat offender, the EU General Court said in a ruling in Luxembourg today. "The repeated anti-competitive conduct of Saint-Gobain" is "less serious than that found by the Commission," the EU's second-highest tribunal said, referring to the EU's antitrust watchdog.

The European Commission fined Saint-Gobain 896 million euros in 2008 for colluding with rivals on the pricing of car windows from 1998 to 2003. Saint-Gobain's penalty was increased because of its role as a repeat offender already punished for rigging prices of glass in the construction industry.

The EU cut the fine to 880 million euros in 2013 to correct a calculation error. The new penalty remains the highest single EU cartel fine for a company.

"The initial amount of the penalty, and the interest relating thereto, is fully provisioned in the group's accounts," the company said. "Saint-Gobain will examine the terms of the General Court's judgment to decide on the action it intends to take on this issue.''

EU antitrust fines are based on sales of products concerned and are capped at a maximum of 10 percent of companies' total annual revenue.

On Tuesday, EU antitrust regulators raided French partsmaker Faurecia, U.S.-based supplier Tenneco, and several auto exhaust systems makers in the latest crackdown against suspected price-fixing in the global auto industry. The raid follows the 953.3 million euro fine imposed by the EU earlier this month on German engineering group Schaeffler, Sweden's SKF and three Japanese partsmakers for taking part in a ball bearings cartel.

Automotive News Europe contributed to this report

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