Cartel Digest

Synthetic Rubber (BR/ESBR)

Synthetic Rubber (BR/ESBR)
  Overall Cartel Period 1996-2002
  Participants ENI SpA and Polimeri Europa SpA; Shell; Unipetrol a.s. and Kaucuk a.s.; Bayer AG; Dow; Trade-Stomil Ltd.
  Total Fines (DOJ) No fines imposed
  Total Fines (EC) €407 million

In March 2003, the European Commission (“EC”) commenced investigations on producers of Butadiene Rubber (“BR”) and Emulsion Styrene Butadiene Rubber (“ESBR”).  BR and ESBR are primarily used in tire production, and the main customers are major tire producers including Michelin, Pirelli and Goodyear.  The market for BR and ESBR in 2001 was estimated at €550 million.  The EC found that, from at least 1996 to 2002, cartel members met to fix prices during regularly scheduled meetings of the European Synthetic Rubber Association.
 

Enforcement Highlights:

  • The EC had originally imposed fines of more than €519 million on six companies, but the General Court of the European Union, Europe’s second highest court, reduced the fine of Italy’s ENI.  In addition, the court erased the fines againstUnipetrol a.s. and two units, Trade-Stomil Ltd. and Kaucuk a.s., because there was “not sufficient” evidence that the companies were involved in the agreements.
  • Bayer received full immunity for being the first to inform the EC of the cartel.
Europe
Company Fine Date
ENI SpA and Polimeri Europa SpA € 181.5 million 11/29/2006
Shell € 160.9 million 11/29/2006
Unipetrol a.s. and Kaucuk a.s. No fines imposed 11/29/2006
Bayer AG Immunity 11/29/2006
Dow € 64.6 million 11/29/2006
Trade-Stomil Ltd. No fines imposed 11/29/2006