EU act against power engineering firms over price fixing

6 May 2006 - Several makers of heavy electrical equipment have been charged by the European Commission (EC) of fixing prices for gas-insulated switchgear used in power substations. The EC has issued letters setting out the charges.

The Commission, without identifying the companies, said on Thursday that raids carried out last year had led to the charges. "The European Commission can confirm that it has recently sent a statement of objections to a number of undertakings regarding their alleged role in a cartel for gas insulated switchgear," it said in a statement.

ABB said Thursday that it had been granted conditional immunity because it had co-operated but refused to comment further. ABB said in 2004 that it had discovered price fixing and that two managers had been dismissed as a result.

France's Areva SA confirmed it had been charged. Siemens of Germany said it was aware of the ongoing investigation and was co-operating but refused to comment on whether it had been charged.

The Commission said the companies involved had fixed prices and allocated contracts in the European Economic Area, which includes the 25-member European Union and three other countries.

Gas insulated switchgear is heavy, expensive equipment that controls the flow of energy. It is sold as a distinct product, and also as part of fully functional power substations.

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