The European Commission said on Thursday that it had sent a statement of objections to a number of companies active in the cathode ray tubes (CRT) industry, concerning their alleged participation in two separate cartels in violation of EC Treaty rules on restrictive business practices.
Surprise inspections were carried out by the commission in November 2007 at the premises of manufacturers of cathode ray tubes. The EC believes that Chunghwa Picture Tubes (a unit of Tatung), LG Electronics, Matsushita (Panasonic), Philips, Samsung and Toshiba have formed cartels to boost pricing of CRT-based devices, such as computer monitors or TV-sets.
A statement of objections is a formal step in commission antitrust investigations in which the commission informs the parties concerned in writing of the objections raised against them. The addressee of a statement of objections can reply in writing to the statement, setting out all facts known to it which are relevant to its defense against the objections raised by the Commission. The party may also request an oral hearing to present its comments on the case. Sending a statement of objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the procedure.
Although CRT monitors and TV-sets are still available on some markets, the majority of currently used output devices are either liquid crystal displays or plasmas, therefore, the investigation will hardly influence any prices. Potentially, it may thwart formation of cartels in general, however, this is hardly likely.