The European Commission has fined two suppliers of braking systems €75 million for taking part in cartels, in breach of EU antitrust rules.
All companies acknowledged their involvement in the cartels and agreed to settle the cases.
The European Commission found two cartels relating to braking systems. The first concerned the supply of hydraulic braking systems (HBS) and involved TRW (USA, now ZF TRW, Germany), Bosch (Germany) and Continental (Germany). The second cartel concerned the supply of electronic braking systems (EBS) and involved Bosch and Continental. The Commission imposed a total fine of €75 million.
In both cartels, the three car part suppliers aimed at coordinating their market behaviour by exchanging sensitive information, including on pricing elements. The coordination took place at bilateral meetings and through phone conversations or email exchanges.
The first cartel lasted from February 2007 to March 2011 and related to discussions of general sales conditions of hydraulic braking systems for two customers, Daimler and BMW. The second cartel lasted from September 2010 to July 2011 and related to one specific tender for electronic braking systems for Volkswagen.
The Commission’s investigation in this case started with an immunity application by TRW.
In setting the level of fines, the Commission took into account, in particular, the sales value in the EEA achieved by the cartel participants for the products in question, the serious nature of the infringement, its geographic scope and its duration.
Under the Commission’s 2006 Leniency Notice:
- TRW received full immunity for revealing the HBS cartel, thereby avoiding a fine of ca. €54 million.
- Continental received immunity for revealing the EBS cartel, thereby avoiding a fine of ca. €22 million for this cartel.
- Bosch and Continental (for the cartel for which it did not receive immunity) benefited from reductions of their fines for their cooperation with the Commission investigation. The reductions reflect the timing of their cooperation and the extent to which the evidence they provided helped the Commission to prove the existence of the cartels in which they were involved.
In addition, under the Commission’s 2008 Settlement Notice, the Commission applied a reduction of 10% to the fines imposed on the companies in view of their acknowledgment of the participation in the cartel and of the liability in this respect.
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