Seven manufacturers share $1.92 billion fine for 10 years of CRT price fixing

The two big price fixing scandals we’ve reported about in the last few years were to do with LCD panels and DRAM chips. LG, Sharp, and Chunghwa were fined for LCD price fixing, while nine chip makers were issued heavy fines for keeping DRAM prices high. But it turns out there was a much bigger, longer running price fixing cartel back in the days of the CRT display.

The European Commission has discovered 8 manufacturers who were involved in price fixing cartels for either CRT monitors or CRT TVs between the years of 1996 and 2006. All of them are now facing huge fines totaling $1.92 billion dollars, with the exception of Chunghwa who brought the existence of the cartels to the EC’s attention and therefore is exempt.

As for the others, they include Philips, LG, Panasonic, Toshiba, MTPD, Samsung, and Technicolor. The cartels were apparently very well organized and managed to keep profits high as the cost of a CRT formed as much as 70% of the total cost of a TV or monitor.

The price fixing seems to have been achieved mainly by tightly controlling production of CRTs so as not to flood the market and therefore endanger existing price levels. Apparently the manufacturers had regular meetings about pricing, which they referred to as “green meetings,” after which they went and played golf. In the meantime, everyone across Europe was paying more than they should have been for their CRT displays.

The actual fine breakdown per company isn’t straightforward as some fines are shared and some reductions issued for cooperation with the EC investigation. And in the case of MTPD, it is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Toshiba. Here’s how the fines work out, though:

Individual Fine Breakdown

  • LG – $234.12m
  • Philips – $314m
  • Panasonic – $205.8m
  • Samsung – $106.4m
  • Technicolor – $50.46m
  • Toshiba – $36.6m

Joint Fines Breakdown

  • Philips and LG – $422.1m
  • Panasonic, Toshiba, and MTPD – $113.3m
  • Panasonic and MTPD – $10.3m

More at Gigaom

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