(Adds dropped word euro in headline)
By Foo Yun Chee
LUXEMBOURG, July 12 (Reuters) - Investment bank Goldman Sachs, the world’s top cablemaker Prysmian, Nexans and eight other cable companies on Thursday lost their challenge against a 302 million euros ($352.6 million) EU cartel fine.
The companies had appealed to the General Court, Europe’s second-highest court, asking for the European Commission’s 2014 decision to be thrown out and their fines reduced.
The EU antitrust enforcer said the group ran a power cable cartel for almost 10 years from 1999, sharing markets and allocating customers between themselves. ABB escaped a 33 million euro sanction by alerting the authorities.
The court rejected their appeals.
“The General Court confirms the fines of over 300 million euros that the Commission imposed on the main European and Asian producers of (extra) high voltage power cables for their participation in a worldwide cartel,” judges said.
Prysmian was hit with the biggest fine at 104.6 million euros, which included a joint fine of 37.3 million euros with Goldman Sachs. The bank acquired the Italian company via one of its private equity funds in 2005 but has since sold its holding.
Other cartel members were Japanese cable firms Exsym Corporation, J-Power Systems Corporation and Viscas Corporation, Korean peer LS Cable & System and General Cable Corp via its subsidiary Silec.
Fines were also given to Danish company NKT Holding , South Korean firm Taihan Electric Wire, Mitsubishi Cable Industries, Sumitomo Electric Industries and Hitachi Metals Ltd. Sumitomo and Hitachi were J-Power Systems’ previous owners.
Antitrust enforcers in Japan, South Korea and Australia have already levied million-dollar fines against cable companies for anti-competitive practices. ($1 = 0.8565 euros) (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee and Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by David Evans)