Goldman, Prysmian, Nexans face cable price-fixing fines - sources

BRUSSELS Fri Mar 21, 2014 2:17pm EDT

A Goldman Sachs sign is seen over their kiosk on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, April 26, 2010. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

A Goldman Sachs sign is seen over their kiosk on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, April 26, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs and world No.1 cablemaker Prysmian will be charged along with France's Nexans and several Japanese cable firms next month by the EU for operating an industry price-fixing cartel, four people with knowledge of the matter said on Friday.

The European Commission's competition authority launched the case with raids on the companies more than five years ago. It can fine wrong-doers up to 10 percent of their global turnover for breaching EU rules.

"The Commission's decision is expected to come before Easter (April 20)," one of the sources said.

Authorities in Japan, South Korea and Australia have already levied million-dollar fines against cable companies for anti-competitive practices, and the United States Department of Justice is also investigating the industry.

Goldman Sachs (GS.N), which acquired Italy's Prysmian (PRY.MI) via one of its private equity funds in 2005, declined to comment. It has since sold its holding. Prysmian, which makes cables for the power and telecom industries, declined to comment. The company has made a 199-million-euro ($274.27 million) provision for a possible fine.

World No. 2 cablemaker Nexans (NEXS.PA), which set aside a 200-million-euro provision three years ago for a possible fine, said it did not have any information as to when the European Commission would give its ruling or what the ruling would be.

A spokeswoman for Nexans said the last exchange the company had had with the European Commission dated from late 2013, at which point it had not been informed of any fine or when a ruling would come.

The European Commission spokesman for competition policy, Antoine Colombani, also declined to comment.

The sources said that Swiss engineering group ABB (ABBN.VX) alerted the cartel to the Commission, and would not face sanctions. The Swiss engineering group declined to comment.

The sources said the other cablemakers expected to be penalised include Japanese cable firms Exsym Corporation, J-Power Systems Corporation and Viscas Corporation, and Korean peer LS Cable & System (006260.KS).

J-Power Systems is controlled jointly by Hitachi Metals Ltd (5486.T) and Sumitomo Electric Industries .(5802.T). Mitsubishi Cable Industries MTCBL.UL is a shareholder in Exsym.

It was not clear if Danish industrial group NKT Holding (NKT.CO), South Korean firm Taihan Electric Wire (001440.KS) and General Cable Corp (BGC.N) which received the EU charge sheet in July 2011, will face fines.

($1 = 0.7256 Euros)

(Additional reporting by Massimo Gaia in Milan, Natalie Huet in Paris and Katharina Bart in Zurich; editing by Sophie Walker)

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