The European Commission said on Tuesday it has fined Orbia of Mexico, Clariant of Switzerland and Celanese of the US a total of €260 million for breaching EU antitrust rules by taking part in a cartel making purchases on the ethylene merchant market.
Westlake of the US was not fined “as it revealed the cartel” to the Commission.
“The companies took part in a cartel concerning purchases on the ethylene merchant market,” said the Commission.
“They colluded to buy ethylene for the lowest possible price.
“All four companies acknowledged their involvement in the cartel and agreed to settle the case.”
The practices covered Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands from December 2011 to March 201 .
“Unlike in most cartels where companies conspire to increase their sales prices, the four companies colluded to lower the value of ethylene, to the detriment of ethylene sellers,” said the Commission.
Executive Vice-President of the Commission Margrethe Vestager said: “This cartel aimed at manipulating the prices which the companies paid for their ethylene purchases.
“Ethylene is a flammable chemical that’s used to make materials, like PVC, that go into many products we use every day.
“The four companies in the cartel have colluded and exchanged information on purchasing prices which is illegal.
“The Commission does not tolerate any form of cartels.
“EU antitrust rules not only prohibit cartels related to coordination of selling prices, but also cartels related to coordination of purchasing prices.
“This protects the competitive process for inputs.”