Cie. de Saint-Gobain SA won a 165 million-euro ($227 million) reduction in its record 880 million-euro EU antitrust fine for fixing car-glass prices.
Europe’s biggest supplier of building materials was punished too harshly for being a repeat offender, the EU General Court said in a ruling in Luxembourg today.
“The repeated anti-competitive conduct of Saint-Gobain” is “less serious than that found by the commission,” the EU’s second-highest tribunal said, referring to the EU’s antitrust watchdog.
The European Commission fined Saint-Gobain 896 million euros in 2008 for colluding with rivals on prices of car windows from 1998 to 2003. Saint-Gobain’s penalty was increased because of its role as a repeat offender already punished for rigging prices of glass in the construction industry. The EU cut the fine to 880 million euros in 2013 to correct a calculation error.
“The initial amount of the penalty, and the interest relating thereto, is fully provisioned in the group’s accounts,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. “Saint-Gobain will examine the terms of the General Court’s judgment to decide on the action it intends to take on this issue.”
The revised penalty remains the highest single EU cartel fine for a company.
The EU’s antitrust watchdog, said “it is quite rare” for the question of repeated infringements “to arise in the same way as it did in this case.”
“The commission welcomes that the General Court has established a clear precedent stating that a period of 14 years between infringements is not too long to justify an increase in the fine for recidivism,” the EU regulator said in an e-mailed statement.
EU antitrust fines are based on sales of products concerned and are capped at a maximum of 10 percent of companies’ total annual revenue.
The cases are: T-56/09, Saint-Gobain Glass France and Others v. Commission; T-73/09, Compagnie de Saint-Gobain v. Commission.