EU watchdog about to bite Philips, Samsung and Infineon

EU watchdogs are about to bite the rump of Philips, Samsung and Infineon for fixing prices of chips used in mobile SIM cards.

The three were subjected to dawn raids in October 2008 and the European Union charged them last year with taking part in a cartel.

SIM chips are used in passports, bank cards, identity cards and television systems and the technology has been universally adopted.

The companies may be fined in late July or possibly September but a decision has already been made, according to tremors in the force at Brussels.

So far there has been no official comment from either the commission, Philips, Infineon or Samsung. Philips said last year that the EU charges covered the period 2003 to 2004 and involved its semiconductor business which it has since sold.

Renesas was apparently given a “Get out of Jail Free Card” by the Commission because it grassed up the others. Renesas has not publically admitted its role in the affair and was unaware that the other companies would be fined.

As Intel found out to its cost, companies that breach EU rules can be fined up to 10 percent of their global turnover. Dutch company Philips’s 2013 turnover was $31.72 billion.

Talks between the EU and the three companies broke down last year.

The chipmakers had initially sought to settle the case, which means admitting guilt in return for a 10 percent cut in the fines.