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Philips, LG Electronics, others face EU cartel fines

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Six top electronics firms including Philips and LG Electronics face hefty European Union fines at the end of the month for fixing prices of TV cathode-ray tubes, four people with knowledge of the matter said.

The sources said on Friday other companies involved in the cartel were South Korea's Samsung SDI, French group Thomson, which was renamed Technicolor in 2010, and Japanese companies Matsushita, now known as Panasonic Corp, and Toshiba Corp.

The European Commission, which raided the companies in late 2007, will announce the fines on November 28, according to a Commission document seen by Reuters and confirmed by sources.

Sanctions are expected to be substantial because the cartel lasted more than a decade from the late 1990s, one of the sources said. The EU executive can penalize companies up to 10 percent of their turnover for breaching EU rules.

In the case of Dutch group Philips that could reach 2.26 billion euros ($2.9 billion), while for South Korea's LG Electronics it could be 5.4 trillion won ($5.0 billion), based on their 2011 revenues. However, sanctions are not expected to hit those levels.

The sources said Taiwanese company Chunghwa Picture Tubes alerted the EU antitrust regulators to the existence of the cartel, so will not be fined.

LG Philips Display, a joint venture between Philips and LG Electronics, and MT Picture Display, a joint venture between Matsushita and Toshiba, will also be penalized, the sources said.

The European Commission did not respond to a phone call or email seeking comment.

Cathode ray tubes, which were also used in computer monitors, have largely been replaced by modern display technologies such as LCD, plasma display and organic light-emitting diode.

The EU authority slapped a total fine of 648 million euros on six LCD companies which included Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Samsung Electronics and LG Display two years ago for taking part in a cartel.

Last year, it penalized four producers of cathode ray tubes glass 128.74 million euros for fixing prices.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Rex Merrifield and Mark Potter)

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