Goldman Sachs, Prysmian, others lose challenge against EU cartel fine

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - Investment bank Goldman Sachs GS.N, the world's biggest cablemaker Prysmian PRY.MI, Nexans NEXS.PA and eight other cable companies on Thursday lost their challenge against a 302 million euros ($353 million) EU cartel fine.

Slideshow ( 2 images )

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 ABBN.S escaped a 33 million euro sanction by alerting the authorities.

The court rejected the 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.

The group said in a statement it would appeal the general court’s decision at the EU’s highest court, the European Court of Justice.

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 NKT.CO, South Korean firm Taihan Electric Wire 001440.KS, Mitsubishi Cable Industries [MTCBL.UL], Sumitomo Electric Industries 5802.T and Hitachi Metals Ltd 5486.T. 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.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee and Robert-Jan Bartunek; additional reporting by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by David Evans and Mark Potter