EU fines capacitor makers €254m over price-fixing cartel

Capacitors are essential parts of almost all electronic products, from smart phones to appliances in homes, electronic systems in cars and wind turbines

By Priyanka Shrestha

The European Commission has fined eight producers of a key component of electronics called capacitors €254 million (£221.5m) for price-fixing.

It alleges Japanese firms Elna, Hitachi Chemical, Holy Stone, Matsuo, NEC Tokin, Nichicon, Nippon Chemi-Con and Rubycon operated a cartel for the supply of aluminium and tantalum electrolytic capacitors between 1998 and 2012.

Capacitors are essential parts of almost all electronic products, from smart phones to appliances in homes, electronic systems in cars and wind turbines.

The firms have been accused of exchanging information on future prices and pricing intentions and on future supply and demand information, with meetings taking place mainly in Japan but the operation was on a global scale.

Sanyo Electric and its parent company Panasonic Corporation avoided a €32 million (£28m) fine by blowing the whistle on the alleged cartel.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy said: “The nine companies fined today colluded to maximise their profits. This may have happened not only at the expense of manufacturers but also of consumers.

“Our decision again makes clear that we will not tolerate anti-competitive conduct that may affect European consumers, even if anticompetitive contacts take place outside Europe.”