EU to fine Philips, three others for online sales curbs

Published: July 24, 2018
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European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager holds a news conference at the EU Commission's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 21, 2018.
PHOTO: REUTERS

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager holds a news conference at the EU Commission's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 21, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

BRUSSELS: Dutch healthcare technology company Philips and three other companies are expected to be fined by EU antitrust regulators on Tuesday for restricting online sales of their products, two people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The ruling by the European Commission follows a 17-month investigation as part of its crackdown against curbs on online cross-border sales such as restricting offers based on a customer’s location or nationality.

The investigation, which kicked off in February last year, covered a total of 15 companies in three different segments — consumer electronics, video games and hotel rooms.

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European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager is due to announce decisions on four cases at a news conference at about 1030 GMT. The EU competition authority declined to comment.

Philips declined to comment but referred to a July 6 statement which estimated a 30-million-euro ($35 million) provision for the EU sanction booked in the second quarter.

Vestager’s decision to penalise a European company and others comes a week after she handed down a record 4.34 billion euro fine to Google.

It could help the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, who will meet US President Donald Trump in Washington on Wednesday to counter Trump’s complaints that the EU is taking advantage of the United States.

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The EU investigation into the consumer electronics industry targets Philips, Taiwan’s Asus, Denon & Marantz, and Pioneer which were suspected of having restricted the ability of online retailers to set their own prices for appliances, notebooks, and hi-fi products.EU

For video games, Valve, the owner of the Steam distribution platform and five-game makers – Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and ZeniMax – accused of preventing purchases because of a consumer’s location or country of residence.

The third investigation focused on tour operators Kuoni, REWE, Thomas Cook and TUI and hotel group Melia.

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