Dow, DuPont, Denki Lose EU Appeal to Cut Rubber Cartel Fines

DuPont Co., Dow Chemical Co., and Denki Kagaku Kogyo KK lost bids to overturn antitrust fines by the European Union for claims they colluded to fix prices in the rubber chemical industry.

The European Commission was right in the findings and fines it imposed for the cartel, the EU’s General Court said in three separate rulings for the companies.

The EU’s antitrust regulator has “wide discretion as regards the methods of calculating fines” and didn’t err in the amounts or the fines themselves, the Luxembourg-based tribunal said today.

Five companies were fined a total of 247.6 million euros ($325 million) in 2007 by the commission, the European Union’s antitrust regulator, for colluding on prices for chloroprene rubber, used to make latex rubber, from at least 1993 to 2002, the commission said. Bayer AG, Germany’s largest drugmaker and another repeat offender, escaped a 201 million euro fine, as it had told the regulator about the cartel. An appeal by Eni SpA, which received the heaviest fine, is pending.

“DuPont is disappointed with the decision” and is considering whether to appeal, Eduardo Menchaca, a spokesman for the company, said today.

‘Convinced of the Correctness’

Dow will appeal the ruling “as we continue to remain convinced of the correctness of our position,” the company said in an e-mailed statement.

Naoshi Fukawa, a spokesman for Denki Kagaku in Tokyo, said the company can’t comment until it has read the ruling.

DuPont received a 15 million-euro fine and Dow was fined 4.4 million euros individually. The commission fined their former joint venture 44.3 million euros, to be shared by the two companies. Dow Chemical transferred its stake in the joint venture to Wilmington, Delaware-based DuPont in 2005 and it was renamed DuPont Performance Elastomers LLC.

Eni, Italy’s largest oil company, got a 60 percent fine increase to 132.2 million euros for being a repeat offender. Its appeal is being reviewed separately.

Tosoh Corp., a Japan petrochemical maker, did not fight the decision after receiving a 50 percent cut in its fine for cooperating with the investigation.

The cases are T-76/08 Pending Case, E.I. du Pont de Nemours and others v Commission; T-77/08 Pending Case, Dow Chemical v Commission; T-83/08 Pending Case, Denki Kagaku Kogyo and Denka Chemicals v Commission.

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