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Glass makers crack under pressure


November 12, 2008
By Javier Espinoza

Nov. 12, 2008 – Four European car glass makers have been slapped with a 1.6B dollar fine for reportedly fixing prices.

Four car glass makers have allegedly been caught cheating and are
now dealing with the consequences. The European Commission antitrust
division finedAsahi Glass, Pilkington, Saint-Gobain and Soliver a total of over 1.3 billion euros ($1.7 billion) on Wednesday for a cartel in delivering car glass.

The
manufacturers "cheated the car industry and millions of car buyers for
five years, between early 1998 and early 2003," the E.U.'s antitrust
chief Neelie Kroes told reporters in Brussels, adding this is the
largest fine ever imposed on a cartel in Europe.

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"The
products covered by the cartel were windscreens, side windows and rear
windows for new cars, and branded replacements for these items sold by
authorized repairers," Kroes added.

The four companies
discussed the supply limits of car glass for new cars and renegotiated
ongoing contracts during secret meetings at airports and hotels across
Europe, the E.U. said.

The four companies controlled around
90.0% of the glass used in new cars and for original branded
replacement glass for cars in the European Economic Area, including the
E.U. countries plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, a market worth
2.0 billion euros in the last year of the infringement, the Commission
said. The E.U. also said it started the investigation after a tip-off
from "an anonymous source," and in 2005, antitrust authorities raided
several car glass producers across Europe.

French company Saint-Gobain
(other-otc:
CODGF

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was fined 896.0 million euros ($1.1 billion); Pilkington, a U.K. unit
of Japan's Nippon Sheet Glass, was charged 370.0 million euros ($463.0
million); Belgium's Soliver was fined 4.4 million euros ($5.5 million);
and Asahi was charged 113.5 million euros ($142.1 million).

"The
Commission increased the fines for Saint-Gobain by 60.0% because it was
a repeat offender," the Commission said. Saint-Gobain was not
immediately available to comment.

See: http://www.forbes.com/markets/2008/11/12/glass-makers-eufine-markets-equity-cx_je_1112markets10.html


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