BRUSSELS – Brussels
A Hitachi Ltd.-LG Corp. joint venture and Sony Corp. were among a group of companies fined a combined total of €116 million ($131.6 million) by European Union regulators for fixing the prices of CD and DVD drives.
Hitachi-LG Data Storage Inc. will have to pay €37.1 million and Sony received a €21 million penalty. Toshiba-Samsung Storage Technology Corp. was fined €41.3 million, the European Commission said in a statement.
“Today’s decision demonstrates once again that cartelists cannot escape fines just by holding their meetings in cinemas and car parks outside Europe, while selling their products in Europe,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said on Wednesday.
The EU technology probe mirrored a U.S. investigation where Hitachi-LG agreed to plead guilty and pay a $21.1 million fine for conspiring with other companies from June 2004 through September 2009 to rig bids and fix prices for optical drives sold to Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Microsoft Corp.
The companies colluded between June 2004 and November 2008 to rig bids on optical-disk drives sold to manufacturers of personal computers and servers, the EU said. Sony Optiarc was fined €9.8 million. Quanta Storage Inc. will have to pay €7.1 million.
Optical disk drives include products marketed under the names CD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD-ROM and DVD-RW that have faded in popularity in recent years as new Internet-based streaming technologies have emerged.
Royal Philips NV received immunity from fines after blowing the whistle on the cartel.