The EU on Tuesday fined Asustek Computer Inc (華碩) for anti-competitive practices, but said the fine was reduced by 40 percent because the company cooperated with an investigation.
The EU announced that it was fining four companies, including Asustek, a combined 111 million euros (US$129.9 million) for imposing fixed or minimum resale prices on online retailers.
Asustek was fined 63.5 million euros, while Dutch-based Koninklijke Philips NV and Japan’s Pioneer Corp and Denon & Marantz were fined 29.8 million euros, 10.2 million euros and 7.7 million euros respectively.
The four had their fines reduced by 40 to 50 percent depending on their level of cooperation with the investigation, the EU said.
Asustek said it assigned a provision of 65 million euros in the first quarter to cover the anticipated fine from the EU.
The provision resulted in a nonoperating loss of NT$760 million (US$24.81 million) for Asustek in the first quarter, dragging first-quarter net profit to NT$2.38 billion, which was down 35 percent from a year earlier.
The company also said it would abide by EU rules when it markets and sells its products in member nations and would also strengthen employee training to avoid anti-competitive practices.
Asustek and the other three companies engaged in “fixed or minimum resale price maintenance,” in effect demanding that online retailers keep prices for their products above a certain level or face threats or sanctions, such as cutting off supply, the EU said.
Asustek intervened with retailers in Germany and France from 2011 to 2014, when they resold products at prices less than those recommended by Asustek, the EU said.
As online retailers use pricing algorithms that automatically adapt retail prices to those of competitors, restrictions on low-price online retailers “typically had a broader impact on overall online prices for consumer electronics products,” the EU said.
“As a result of the actions taken by these four companies, millions of European consumers faced higher prices for kitchen appliances, hair dryers, notebook computers, headphones and many other products. This is illegal under EU anti-trust rules,” European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.
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