UK companies fined by EU over copper cartel

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The Independent Online

Three British engineering groups, Tomkins, IMI and Delta, were among 30 companies fined €314.7m (£211m) by the European Commission yesterday for forming a copper-fitting cartel.

The fine is the fifth-biggest penalty imposed by Europe's top antitrust authority. The Dutch firm, Aalberts, received the largest fine of €100.8m, while IMI was fined €48.3m and Delta €28.3m. Tomkins was fined €5m in relation to its former subsidiary, Pegler, which was sold to its management in 2004. Tomkins and Delta, which sold its former plumbing businesses in 2001, said they were undecided whether to appeal against the ruling. IMI, whose former copper-fittings business was sold in 2002, said it would consider an appeal.

The cartel resulted in consumers paying higher prices. Copper fittings are used in tubes for plumbing, heating and sanitation.

The EC said: "Between 1988 and 2004, the companies fixed prices, discounts and rebates, agreed on mechanisms to co-ordinate price increases, allocated customers and exchanged commercially important and confidential information."

Mueller's fine was waived as it was the first to come forward with information about the cartel.