Infineon fine cut by 7%, EU court faults antitrust regulators' ruling

FILE PHOTO: A close-up of a the Infineon microcontroller kit XMC 4700 at an exhibition during the semiconductor manufacturer Infineon's annual shareholder meeting in Munich, Germany February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Europe’s second top court on Wednesday cut Infineon Technologies’ cartel fine by 7% to 76.87 million euros ($86.7 million), saying that the German chipmaker had fewer anti-competitive contacts with other cartel members than EU antitrust regulators had said.

The European Commission had in 2014 imposed a total fine of 138 million euros on Infineon, Philips and Samsung Electronics for taking part in a cartel between 2003 and 2005. Infineon’s penalty at 82.78 million euro ($93.3 million was the biggest.

Japanese chipmaker Renesas escaped a fine because it alerted the cartel to the EU competition enforcer.

The Luxembourg-based General Court faulted the Commission over its work.

“The Commission took insufficient account of the limited number of the anti-competitive contacts which Infineon had with its competitors and also found that company had a contact without succeeding in proving its existence,” judges said.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in 2018 told the General Court to review the case again after Infineon appealed the lower tribunal’s 2016 ruling, rejecting its challenge against the EU antitrust fine.

The judgment can be appealed to the CJEU on points of law. The case is T-758/14 RENV Infineon.

($1 = 0.8872 euros)

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by Louise Heavens