Dutch consumers group to seek damages from Philips

AMSTERDAM Fri Dec 7, 2012 3:15am EST

AMSTERDAM Dec 7 (Reuters) - The Dutch Consumers' Association is to look at how it can claim damages against electronics firms including Philips that were fined this week for uncompetitive practices by the European Commission.

The European Commission imposed the biggest antitrust penalty in its history on Wednesday, fining six firms including Philips, LG Electronics and Panasonic Corp a total of 1.47 billion euros ($1.9 billion) for running two cartels for nearly a decade.

The Commission said executives from the Asian and European companies met until six years ago to fix prices and divide up markets for TV and computer monitor cathode-ray tubes, technology now mostly made obsolete by flat screens.

Consumentenbond, the Dutch Consumers' Association, said on Friday it was waiting for an amendment to the law so it can recover damages on behalf of consumers, and was looking at how it can pursue claims against Philips and the other companies.

The EU antitrust regulator imposed the biggest penalties on Philips for its role in the price fixing and carving up of markets: the Dutch electronics, healthcare and lighting company was fined 313 million euros and faces a further penalty through a joint venture.

Frans van Houten, Philips chief executive, said the group would challenge what he called a disproportionate and unjustified penalty.