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Robert Bosch Settles Antitrust Suit Against SGL Carbon

Robert Bosch GmbH, the world’s biggest automotive supplier, settled a U.K. lawsuit accusing SGL Carbon SE of overcharging for graphite products during an 11-year price-fixing cartel.

Terms of the accord are private and neither company was ordered to pay the other’s costs in the case, Justice Gerald Barling wrote yesterday in a notice on the website of the Competition Appeal Tribunal in London.

Stuttgart-based Robert Bosch’s settlement doesn’t involve the other customers or cartel participants in the four-year-old lawsuit by Valeo SA, France’s second-largest car-parts maker and St. Louis-based Emerson Electric Co. The other defendants in the case include Morgan Crucible Co. and Schunk GmbH.

The companies sued after the European Union in 2003 fined Wiesbaden, Germany-based SGL and other cartel members a total of 101 million euros ($137 million) for fixing prices on graphite products from 1988 to 1999. While Morgan Crucible received immunity from the fines because it was the first to cooperate, its former Chief Executive Officer Ian Norris was sentenced to 18 months in prison in a U.S. case over his role in the cartel.

“SGL Group had no relevant sales with the two remaining claimants, Emerson an Valeo,” SGL spokeswoman Corinna Gemein said in an e-mail today.

Robert Bosch spokesman Achim Schneider confirmed the settlement and declined to comment further when reached today by phone.

Authorities began investigating price-fixing in the industry in 1997, prompting SGL to pay $145 million to the U.S. to head off criminal indictments. France’s Carbone Lorraine SA and Austria’s Hoffmann & Co. were also involved in the cartel.

In a related case, the cartel members were sued in London in December by Deutsche Bahn AG and other rail companies in Britain, Germany and Italy, seeking to recover overpayments for carbon and graphite products.

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