The European Commission has imposed fines of €486,900,000 on glass makers Asahi, Guardian, Pilkington and Saint-Gobain for co-ordinating price increases of flat glass used in Europe’s construction sector.
The Commission started the investigation on its own initiative. Surprise inspections were carried out in February and March 2005 at the premises of Asahi’s and Guardian’s European subsidiaries, as well as at the premises of Pilkington, Saint-Gobain and the European Association of Flat Glass Producers.
The Commission discovered that, between early 2004 and early 2005, Asahi, Guardian, Pilkington and Saint-Gobain representatives took part in several meetings in restaurants and hotels in different European countries during which they fixed minimum prices and discussed and agreed the level and timing of price increases.
The three companies have a combined share of at least 80 per cent of the flat glass market in Europe.
For their efforts, Guardian, Pilkington and Saint-Gobain were fined over €130,000,000 each, while Asahi, who co-operated with the Commission and provided additional evidence, was fined €65,000,000.
‘The Commission will not tolerate companies cheating consumers and business customers by fixing prices and depriving them of the benefits of the single market,’ said Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes.