* Infineon receives the biggest penalty at 82.8 mln euros
* EU regulators say smart card chip cartel between 2003-2005
* Renesas alerted regulators, escaped fine
(Adds Infineon comment)
By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS, Sept 3 European Union antitrust
regulators fined Philips, Samsung Electronics
and Infineon Technologies a total of 138
million euros ($181.28 million) on Wednesday for fixing prices
of chips used in mobile SIM cards.
The European Commission, which raided the companies in
October 2008, said the cartel took place between 2003 and 2005,
with the companies also colluding on customers, production
capacity and future market conduct.
Infineon received the biggest penalty at 82.8 million euros.
The German chipmaker rejected the EU finding, saying it would
take its case to Europe's second highest court in Luxembourg.
Samsung was fined 35.12 million euros and Philips 20.15
Philips, which spun off its former semiconductor unit into
an independent company NXP Semiconductors in 2006, said
the EU charge against the unit was unfounded and that it too
would challenge the decision in court.
Renesas Technology, a joint venture between Hitachi Ltd and
Mitsubishi Electric that was acquired by Renesas Electronics
Corp in 2010, escaped a fine of more than 51 million
euros as it was the first to alert the EU competition authority
about the cartel.
The chips produced by the companies are also used in bank
cards, identity cards, passports and pay TV cards. The companies
had sought to settle the case in return for a 10 percent cut in
the fines but talks subsequently broke down.
($1= 0.7613 euro)
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, additional reporting by Thomas
Escritt in Amsterdam and Maria Sheehan in Frankfurt; Editing by
Julia Fioretti and Michael Urquhart)