Brussels slaps record fine on glass cartel

Pilkington is one of four international glass companies subject to the European Commission's biggest-ever fine for price fixing. The UK company, now owned by Nippon Sheet Glass, must stump up €370m (£309m), St Gobain of France must pay €896m, Japan's Asahi €114m and Belgium's Soliver €4.4m, Brussels ruled yesterday.

The total levy of €38bn is beyond the Eu1bn-mark for the first time. The four companies acted as a cartel and illegally fixed the price of glass used in the car industry between 1998 and 2003, when they controlled around 90 per cent of the market, the Commission said. The French company was hit hardest because it is a repeat offender. Asahi cut its fine in half by assisting the investigation.

Neelie Kroes, the EU competition commissioner, said: "Companies that damage consumers and European industry by running cartels must learn their lessons the hard way — if you cheat, you will get a heavy fine."