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Repsol, Cepsa Lose Bid for Reduction in EU Bitumen-Cartel Fines

Sept. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Repsol SA and Cia. Espanola de Petroleos SA lost European Union court appeals against fines levied for fixing prices of bitumen in Spain, while Nynas AB and Galp Energia SGPS SA had their penalties cut.

The EU General Court today rejected appeals by Repsol and Cepsa of the six-year-old fines. The Luxembourg-based EU court trimmed the fines for Galp and a Spanish unit to 8.3 million euros ($11.1 million) from 8.6 million euros and reduced a penalty for Nynas to 10.4 million euros from 10.6 million euros.

The European Commission, the EU’s Brussels-based antitrust regulator, in 2007 fined four companies 183.6 million euros for their “unacceptable” actions in the Spanish cartel that lasted from at least 1991 to 2002. The EU regulator said the companies “cheated customers, public authorities and taxpayers in Spain for almost 12 years” by sharing the market and fixing prices for the asphalt component used in road construction.

Repsol, which previously was called Repsol YPF SA, was fined 80.5 million euros. Madrid-based Cepsa was fined 83.8 million euros. BP Plc, Europe’s second-largest oil company, got immunity from any fines for being the first to come forward with information about the cartel.

Bitumen is used primarily for surfacing roads and waterproofing. More than 10,000 European companies make or lay asphalt.

Further Study

“Galp is certain that a complete annulment of the decision is justified,” the Lisbon, Portugal-based company said in a statement on the securities regulator’s website. The company said it will study the ruling before deciding whether to appeal.

Kristian Rix, a spokesman for Repsol, said the company didn’t immediately have any comment, when contacted by phone. No one in the press departments of Nynas or Cepsa was immediately available for comment when contacted by phone. Cepsa is fully owned by Abu Dhabi’s state-owned International Petroleum Investment Co., which bought Total SA’s 48.8 percent stake in 2011.

Antoine Colombani, a spokesman for the commission, said it welcomed the court ruling “as it confirms all the substantial findings” of the authority.

The cases are: T-462/07, T-482/07, T-495/07, T-496/07, T-497/07

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Bodoni in Luxembourg at sbodoni@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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