STEPHANIE BODONI, BLOOMBERG LONDON, FEBRUARY 21, 2007
ROYAL Dutch Shell, Dow Chemical, and two other companies are appealing against European Union fines levied against them for fixing prices of synthetic rubber.
Shell, Europe’s biggest oil company, and Dow, the largest US chemicals maker, were among five companies fined €519 million ($A867 million) by EU regulators in November for colluding to rig the price of rubber ingredients used in tyres.
EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes levied a record €1.84 billion in fines on seven cartels last year. Eni SpA, Europe’s fourth-biggest oil company, received the highest, €272.2 million, for the rubber cartel. Shell was fined €160.9 million and Dow €64.6 million.
Shell and Dow filed appeals on February 16 with the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg, the EU’s second-highest court, according to Sarah Smallhorn, a spokeswoman at Shell, and Dow spokeswoman Alexandra von Holzing. A ruling could take as long as three years.
Eni plans to file its appeal soon, probably tomorrow, Mario Siragusa, a lawyer for the Rome-based company, said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Shell and Eni had their fines raised for being repeat offenders, while Bayer AG was exempt because it tipped off the regulator. Poland’s Trade-Stomil Sp z o.o. was fined €3.8 million.
Unipetrol AS, the Czech Republic’s biggest oil company, and its rubber-making subsidiary Kaucuk, filed an appeal on February 17 against a €17.5 million fine for colluding in the cartel, according to spokeswoman Michaela Lagronova. Unipetrol is controlled by Polish oil company PKN Orlen SA.
The November cartel decision focused on two synthetic rubber products, called styrene butadiene and emulsion styrene butadiene, which are used in production of tyres and footwear, among other items. The conspiracy to lift prices of the chemicals ran from at least 1996 to 2002, the commission said.