Mitsubishi Electric, Toshiba Fined Again by EU for Power Cartel

Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and Toshiba Corp. were fined a second time by European Union regulators in a price-fixing probe over power-generation equipment after prior penalties were overturned by an EU court.

Mitsubishi Electric must pay 74.8 million euros ($70.8 million) and Toshiba 56.8 million euros for agreeing with rivals to set prices for gas-insulated switchgear, which power companies buy to control electrical flow. The two companies were also jointly fined 4.7 million euros.

The fines are lower than the original 2007 penalties when Mitsubishi Electric was fined 118.6 million euros and Toshiba was fined 90.9 million euros. The EU General Court last year ruled that the European Commission, the 27-nation EU’s antitrust agency, had punished the two Tokyo-based companies more harshly than European competitors in the electrical-equipment cartel. The decision forced EU officials to recalculate the fines.

“Today’s decision ensures that Mitsubishi and Toshiba receive an appropriate fine for their participation in the cartel,” said the EU in a statement. “The decision ensures that companies that have infringed EU competition law do not escape sanctions due to procedural shortcomings.”

The EU fined 10 companies, including Areva SA and Alstom SA, a total of 750.7 million euros in January 2007 for fixing prices and carving up the market for gas-insulated switchgear from 1988 to 2004.

The court canceled the EU’s initial fines for Mitsubishi and Toshiba because regulators used sales figures for a “reference year” that differed from the one used for other companies. The new fine is based on the “same parameters as in the 2007 decision with the exception of the reference year,” the EU said.

Mitsubishi Electric and Toshiba didn’t immediately respond to e-mails before normal business hours in Japan.

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