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EC slaps Asus, Philips and others with €111m fine for online price fixing

THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION (EC) has handed down a total fine of €111m to Asus, Denon & Marantz, Philips and Pioneer for online price fixing. 

Fresh from hitting Google with a record £3.8bn fine for Android dominance abuse, the EC said the aforementioned firms engaged in “fixed or minimum resale price maintenance” by restricting the ability of their online retailers to set their own retail prices for widely used consumer electronics products.

According to Tuesday’s ruling, Asus – which has been handed the largest €63.5m fine – meddled with prices in Germany and France between 2011 and 2014 to prevent online retailers from selling its laptops and displays below its recommended resale prices. 

Philips, which has been fined €29.8m, engaged in resale price maintenance in France between the end of 2011 and 2013 with respect to a range of consumer electronics products such as kitchen appliances, coffee machines, vacuum cleaners, home cinema and home video systems, electric toothbrushes, hair dryers and trimmers, according to the EC. 

Denon and Marantz and Pioneer were slapped with €7.7m and €10.2m fines, respectively, with the latter found guilty of price fixing across 12 EU member states including Germany, France, and the UK. The firm also rejected orders from retailers who wanted to sell across borders within the EU, the watchdog said. 

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who launched an investigation into online price fixing last February, said: “The online commerce market is growing rapidly and is now worth over 500 billion euros in Europe every year. More than half of Europeans now shop online.

“As a result of the actions taken by these four companies, millions of European consumers faced higher prices for kitchen appliances, hair dryers, notebook computers, headphones and many other products. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules.

“Our decisions today show that EU competition rules serve to protect consumers where companies stand in the way of more price competition and better choice.” µ

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Source : Inquirer

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