EU fines ethylene cartel Orbia, Clariant, Celanese 260 million euros

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Eu antitrust regulators on Tuesday fined ethylene companies Orbia, Clariant CLN.S and Celanese CE.N 260 million euros ($295.5 million) for taking part in a cartel while Westlake WLK.N avoided a penalty as it alerted the cartel to the EU.

The European Commission said the four companies took part in a cartel related to purchases on the ethylene merchant market by colluding to buy ethylene at the lowest possible price.

“The four companies in the cartel have colluded and exchanged information on purchasing prices which is illegal,” EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

The EU competition enforcer reduced the fines for the four companies by 10% because admitted to taking part in the cartel. However it also increased the penalties by 10% to avoid under-deterrence of such practices.

Reporting by Marine Strauss @StraussMarine; editing by Foo Yun Chee