I was pointed to a recent article published by the European Commission that has either gone unnoticed by our industry or the industry has chosen to ignore it. Still, I believe that it is big news and should read as a lesson to all the other cartels that exist in our industry that one day, they will be discovered and will be fined.

On March 28th the European Commission’s Antitrust body released a statement which confirmed that a 9 company strong windows hardware manufacturers had been fined a total of 85,876,000 Euros for price fixing. More specifically, on the basis of a cartel which agreed on common price increases. Sound familiar glass people?

The nine companies that were found to be at fault and their share of the fines were as follows:

Fine (€)* Includes reduction (%) under the Leniency Notice
1. Roto 0 100%
2. Gretsch-Unitas 20 552 000 45%
3. Maco 18 501 000 25%
4. Siegenia 18 995 000 0%
5. Winkhaus 19 537 000 0%
6. Hautau 3 179 000 0%
7. Fuhr 2 215 000 0%
8. Strenger 104 000 0%
9. AGB 2 793 000 0%

Now, the reason for Roto having a 100% reduction of their fine was because, and according to the EC press release, the fine would have put the company at risk. Which when you think about it causes some concern about the health of the business.

Gretsch-Unitas and Maco got their reductions due to their help in the Commission’s investigation. Everyone else had to suck it up and pay.

What I hope this report and monetary action does is to send a message to the rest of the industry and it’s suspected cartels that the European Commission is sniffing around, and will hopefully be put off any further joint illegal agreements. Specifically, I am talking about the cartel run by the major glass manufacturers in Britain and Europe. For years we have seen coordinated and gradual price increases from every major manufacturer that could only have occurred through joint agreements.