The European Commission has imposed fines of more than €1bn (£860m) on E.ON, its subsidiary E.ON Ruhrgas of Germany, and on GDF Suez of France for market sharing in breach of EC Treaty rules on cartels and restrictive business practices.
Ruhrgas (now E.ON Ruhrgas, and part of the E.ON Group) and Gaz de France (now part of GDF Suez) agreed in 1975 not to sell gas transported over the Megal pipeline in each other's home markets when they decided to jointly build the pipeline to import Russian gas into Germany and France.
They maintained the market-sharing agreement even after European gas markets were liberalised, and only abandoned it in 2005.
E.ON and GDF Suez are the leading suppliers of natural gas in Germany and France respectively and two of the largest players in the European gas industry.
E.ON acquired control of Ruhrgas, which then became E.ON Ruhrgas, in 2003. Gaz de France merged with Suez in 2008, after the end of the market-sharing agreement with E.ON, to become GDF Suez. The Commission authorised that transaction in 2006.
The Megal pipeline is jointly owned and operated by E.ON Ruhrgas and GDF Suez. It transports gas across southern Germany between the German-Czech and German-Austrian borders to the east and the French-German border to the west.
E.ON and GDF Suez were each fined €553m for breaking the EC rules.