On November 12, 2008 the European Commission (EC) imposed the largest cartel fines in its history against four automobile glass producers for illegal market sharing and exchanging commercially sensitive information in the European Economic Area for an approximately five year period (early 1998 to early 2003). The cartel participants, Asahi Glass Co., Ltd. (Japan), Pilkington Group Limited (United Kingdom), Saint-Gobain (France) and Soliver (Belgium), controlled roughly 90 percent of the €2 billion market for glass used in new cars and for original branded replacement glass.
According to the EC, the four car glass manufacturers engaged in discussions regarding target prices, production levels, market sharing, customer allocation and renegotiations of on-going contracts. The companies intended to allocate their products in a manner so that they could each maintain the stability of their market shares in Europe. The EC initiated this investigation upon receiving “reliable information provided by an anonymous informant.” After a series of unannounced inspections, Asahi filed a leniency application.
Due to its full cooperation with the investigation, the EC reduced Asahi’s fine by 50 percent, resulting in a €113.5 million fine. Pilkington and Soliver were fined €370 million and €4.3 million, respectively, while Saint-Gobain received the largest fine ever imposed by the Commission – €896 million. This record-setting fine was the result of a 60-percent penalty increase imposed on Saint- Gobain for previous cartel offenses in Flat Glass Italy (1984) and Flat Glass Benelux (1988).