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EU Fines Biggest Spot Power Exchanges in Sharing Case

March 5 (Bloomberg) -- The European Union antitrust regulator fined Europe’s two biggest electricity exchanges for near-term delivery as well as Romania’s only power-exchange.

Nord Pool Spot AS and Epex Spot SE were fined a combined 6 million euros ($8.2 million) over a market-sharing agreement, the European Commission said in an e-mailed statement. Romania’s power-exchange operator, Opcom SA, was penalized 1 million euros for imposing restrictions on foreign entrants to the country’s wholesale electricity market, the EU said.

“Sharing European territories among competitors or discriminating on grounds of nationality cannot be tolerated,” Joaquin Almunia, the EU’s antitrust chief, said in a statement.

The commission fines come amid a push to integrate EU electricity markets with power worth over 40 billion euros traded on spot exchanges in the EU, Almunia said. Last month, day-ahead power markets across 15 European nations were linked through a process known as market coupling with plans to expand to intraday markets in all 28 nations by the end of the year.

Nord Pool and Epex Spot were raided by European antitrust officials in February 2012. The two companies’ planned partnership was scrapped the following year, Nord Pool Chief Executive Officer Mikael Lundin said at the time.

Epex Spot “fully cooperated” during the probe and “acknowledges” the commission’s decision, the Paris-based company said in an e-mailed statement. It received a 3.65 million-euro fine and Nord Pool, based in Lysaker, Norway, got a 2.33 million-euro penalty. Both companies received a 10 percent discount for agreeing to settle the cartel case with the commission, the regulator said.

Too Closely

“In our desire to achieve integration within the European power markets we now acknowledge that we did, regrettably, breach European competition regulation,” Lundin said in an e-mailed statement. “We discussed European power market integration too closely with another European power exchange.”

Between 2008 and 2013, Opcom required members of the spot electricity markets to have a Romanian value-added tax registration, refusing to accept traders that were already registered for VAT in other EU countries, the EU said.

Transelectrica SA, Opcom’s parent company, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

To contact the reporters on this story: Gaspard Sebag in Brussels at gsebag@bloomberg.net; Rachel Morison in London at rmorison@bloomberg.net

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

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