EU Slaps Gas Firms With $1.5B Fine for Price-Fixing

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2009 5:48 AM CDT
An engineer with E.ON checks the pressure in a natural gas pipeline in Hajduszoboszlo, Hungary, early this year. E.ON and GDF Suez were hit with a $1.5 billion fine today.   (AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky)
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(Newser) – The European Union's powerful competition commissioner slapped two energy companies with record fines of $1.53 billion today for cartel misbehavior. GDF Suez and E.ON, two of the world's biggest gas producers, colluded to avoid competition in French and German energy markets and drive up prices. It's the first time that the commission has imposed antitrust fines on an energy company, reports the Wall Street Journal.

"Market sharing is one of the worst types of antitrust infringement," said commissioner Neelie Kroes. "This agreement deprived customers of more price competition and more choice of supplier in two of the largest gas markets in the European Union." GDF Suez plans to appeal the fine.