Total Loses EU Top Court Appeal of 78.6 Mlne-Euro Fine

Total SA, France’s largest oil company, and its Elf Aquitaine unit lost a final appeal at the European Union’s top court seeking to annul a 78.6 million-euro ($102 million) fine for fixing prices on bleaching chemicals.

The EU Court of Justice, the bloc’s highest court, rejected the appeal “in its entirety” in a decision posted on its website this week.

Since none of the arguments presented by the parties “are likely to succeed, this request has to be rejected,” the Luxembourg-based court said in the decision dated Sept. 13. The court also rejected a request to cut the fines.

The European Commission, the EU’s antitrust regulator, fined seven companies 388.1 million euros in 2006 for fixing prices of hydrogen peroxide and sodium perborates, used by the pulp and paper industry and to make antiseptic and hair-care products. Solvay SA and Akzo Nobel NV previously paid $72.8 million to settle U.S. criminal charges in a similar cartel.

Total, based in Paris, declined to comment.

The cartel lasted from 1994 until 2000, according to the EU regulator. The penalties followed a 3 1/2 year probe against 18 companies.

The case is: C-495/11 P, Total SA, Elf Aquitaine SA v. European Commission.

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