September 26, 2018 / 9:29 AM / a year ago

Infineon wins court fight against EU cartel fine, Philip loses

Shareholders arrive for the annual meeting of German semiconductor manufacturer Infineon in Munich, southern Germany, February 16, 2017. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle/Files

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Germany’s Infineon Technologies on Wednesday won its fight against an 82.2 million euro ($96.74 million) European Union cartel fine after Europe’s highest court told a lower tribunal to review the size of its penalty.

Infineon, which received the biggest sanction, Philips and Samsung Electronics were hit with a total fine of 138 million euros in 2014 for fixing prices of chips used in mobile SIM cards.

Japanese chipmaker Renesas alerted the cartel to the European Commission and escaped a fine. The EU competition enforcer said the cartel operated between 2003 and 2005. The chips used by the companies are also used in passports as well as bank, identity and pay-TV cards.

Infineon and Philips then challenged the EU ruling at the Luxembourg-based General Court, Europe’s second-top court, but lost their appeals. They subsequently took their case to the EU Court of Justice (ECJ).

ECJ judges agreed with some of Infineon’s arguments.

“The General Court was not entitled, without misconstruing the extent of its unlimited jurisdiction, to refrain from responding to the argument raised by Infineon,” the ECJ said.

It told the lower tribunal to assess the proportionality of the company’s fine. The ECJ also rejected Philip’s appeal.

($1 = 0.8497 euros)

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by Louise Heavens

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