THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION (EC) antitrust arm is investigating a baker's dozen firms over suspicions of bid rigging when dealing with two hardware vendors in the sale of CD and DVD drives.
In a statement the EC said that the unnamed companies supply optical disk drives in Europe and might have worked together to set prices and win business with personal computer and server makers.
"The European Commission has informed thirteen companies supplying optical disk drives in the European Economic Area (EEA) of its preliminary view that they may have infringed EU antitrust rules by participating in a worldwide cartel," said the statement.
"The Commission has concerns that those suppliers may have coordinated their behaviour in bidding events organised by two major original equipment manufacturers for optical disk drives used in personal computers (desktops and notebooks) and in servers."
So far the EC thinking is that the companies have been colluding for at least five years. It warns that if this is the case, then it would be one "of the most serious" breaches of European antitrust rules.
If its suspicions prove correct then the EC can fine the companies involved as much as ten per cent of their annual worldwide turnover. µ