European Commission Alleges Price-Fixing Scheme Among Pilkington, Glaverbel and Saint-Gobain

The European Commission (EC) announced yesterday that it had issued Statements of Objection to Pilkington, Glaverbel and Saint-Gobain alleging that the companies attempted to fix the price of flat glass products. The alleged actions violate EC Treaty rules outlawing restrictive business practices.

According to the Glaverbel website, a Statement of Objections is "a procedural document whereby the European Commission communicates its preliminary view in relation to a possible infringement of EU competition law and allows its addressees to present arguments in response."

As part of the investigation, the EC inspected offices of the companies in question in February and March of 2005. The inspections included Pilkington offices in Sweden, Saint-Gobain offices in France, Germany and Sweden, and various offices of Glaverbel throughout Europe.

When asked for comment, Caroline Sonigo, spokesperson for Saint-Gobain reported that Saint-Gobain, "had nothing to add to the comission's statement… we have received it [the statements of objections] and are looking at it."

Sonigo also reported that the investigation has had no effect on the day-to-day operations of the company since the inspections in 2005.

The companies have two months to respond to the allegations in writing and may request hearings with the Commission to present their responses orally.

Once the responses have been heard and submitted, the Commission may present a final decision. If it decides the glass manufacturers are guilty, the companies face a potential fine of up to 10 percent of worldwide annual sales.