Wednesday, December 17, 2008

French watchdog fines steel cartel £518m

French competition authorities fined 11 steel trading companies, including three subsidiaries of ArcelorMittal, a record €575 million (£518 million) yesterday for running a cartel that carved up the sector between its members over long lunches.

In a 151-page report, France's Competition Council said that the cartel had cost the French economy “hundreds of millions of euros” between 1999 and 2004.

Imposing a virtual monopoly on the industry, the 11 companies had set prices, divided up contracts between them, blocked exterior rivals and punished “deviant” merchants who failed to obey their orders, the report said.

PUM Service Acier, a division of ArcelorMittal, the steel group formed by the takeover of Arcelor in Europe by Mittal of India in 2006, was ordered to pay €288million after being branded one of the three cartel leaders.

Read the full story at the Timesonline.

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