Arkema, Elf Aquitaine Lose EU Court Appeal on Chemicals Cartels

Arkema SA and Elf Aquitaine SA lost appeals at a European Union court to overturn fines levied against them four years ago for colluding with competitors in chemicals cartels.

Arkema and Elf Aquitaine had appeals at the EU General Court in Luxembourg against their fines totaling 28.6 million euros ($38.7 million) rejected today. AC-Treuhand AG, a consulting firm that was fined a total of 348,000 euros in the cartels, also lost.

The European Commission, the EU’s antitrust watchdog, in November 2009 fined 10 companies, including Akzo Nobel NV, 173.9 million euros for fixing prices of tin and heat stabilizers, the latter being used in packaging, credit cards, everyday plastic products or bottles.

The fines for BASF SE’s Ciba unit and Elementis Plc were annulled in 2011 after the Brussels-based EU regulator said its original decision to fine the companies was wrong.

Arkema and Total SA, which owns Elf Aquitaine, didn’t immediately return calls and e-mails seeking comment. AC-Treuhand declined to immediately comment.

The market for the two chemicals was worth about 121 million euros at the time of the breaches, said the commission. The companies fixed chemical prices between 1987 and 2000, it said.

The cases are: T-23/10, Arkema v. Commission; T-24/10, CECA v. Commission; T-40/10, Elf Aquitaine v. Commission; T-27/10, AC-Treuhand v. Commission.