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Competition experts secure lower fines for energy groups

21st September 2012

Two major energy companies have had the fines that were imposed upon them in 2009 by the European Commission significantly reduced after the alleged seriousness of their market sharing was argued against by competition experts based in the UK and the US.

Germany’s E.ON Ruhrgas and France’s GDF Suez were each ordered to pay €533 million (approximately £426 million) after they were found in 2006 to have agreed not to focus their efforts on potential customers in areas that the other had a dominance in.

However, two teams of solicitors with high-ranking New York and London lawyer jobs have managed to successfully argue to the General Court of the European Union that the supposed crimes were now time-barred (having apparently taken place as long ago as 1975), and that the penalties handed out to some extent infringed upon European law. 

In total, the reduction – which is thought to be the largest to have ever been permitted in the continent – amounted to €233 million (£186 million) for both firms.