NEC, capacitor makers lose challenge against $298 mln EU cartel fine

A logo of NEC Corp is pictured at the CEATEC JAPAN 2017 in Chiba
A logo of NEC Corp is pictured at the CEATEC JAPAN 2017 (Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies) at the Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan, October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

LUXEMBOURG, Sept 29 (Reuters) - NEC Corp (6701.T) and four other Japanese capacity makers on Wednesday lost their court challenge against a 254 million euro ($298 million) EU fine for taking part in a cartel for more than a decade.

The European Commission in its 2018 decision said Elna, Hitachi Chemical, Holy Stone, Matsuo, NEC Corp, Tokin, Nichicon (6996.T), Nippon Chemi-Con (6997.T) and Rubycon had fixed prices for the supply of aluminium and tantalum electrolytic. capacitors.

They said the cartel took place between 1998 and 2012 and that while meetings between the participants took place in Japan, the operation was on a global scale.

NEC, Nichicon Corp, Tokin, Rubycon and Nippon Chemi-Con subsequently challenged the EU competition enforcer's fine at the Luxembourg-based General Court, Europe's second highest.

Judges upheld the EU decision.

"The General Court maintains the fines imposed by the Commission on several undertakings by reason of their participation in a cartel on the market for aluminium electrolytic capacitors and tantalum electrolytic capacitors," they said.

Capacitors are used in electronic products such as smartphones, home appliances, car electronic systems and wind turbines.

The companies can appeal to the EU Court of Justice, Europe's highest.

Sanyo Electric Co (MATEIH.UL) and Panasonic Corp (6752.T) avoided a fine as they had alerted the EU competition enforcer to the cartel.

The cases are T-341/18 Nec v Commission, T-342/18 Nichicon Corporation v Commission, T-343/18 Tokin v Commission, T-344/18 Rubycon and Rubycon Holdings v Commission and T-363/18 Nippon Chemi-Con Corporation v Commission.

($1 = 0.8537 euros)

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Jason Neely

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