ArcelorMittal: the world’s biggest steel maker
FRENCH competition watchdogs slapped a record fine of 575 million euros ($785m/£526.3m) on global steel giant ArcelorMittal and another 10 steel firms found guilty of price-fixing yesterday. Three subsidiaries of ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steelmaker, topped the list of offenders and were ordered to pay 301.7 million euros ($425.9m/£275.8m) while KDI, a subsidiary of the German group Kloeckner, was fined 169.3 million euros ($238.8m/£164.6m). The fines were the biggest imposed by the French competition council since its creation in 1986, following a half-billion-euro fine handed down to mobile telephone operators in 2005. Thousands of construction, shipping and boilermaking firms were affected by the price-fixing scam, which is estimated to have cost the economy hundreds of millions of euros between 1999 and 2005, according to regulators. The ArcelorMittal subsidiaries rapped in the case were PUM Service Acier, which was ordered to pay 288 million euros ($406.2m/£263m); ArcelorProfil, which was fined 12.95 million euros ($18.27/£11.83); and AMD Sud Ouest with 830,000 euros ($1.17m/£758109). ArcelorMittal said in a statement it planned to appeal the ruling and noted that it “fights anti-competition practices by applying a strict programme to respect legislation on the global level”. Kloeckner said it would appeal to try to get a ‘significant reduction’ of its fine because it said the sum was based on the group's global sales and not on sales made only in France. The price of shares in ArcelorMittal, by far the biggest steel group, was showing a fall of 1.3 per cent to 17.27 euros ($24.36/£15.78) in late afternoon trading in Paris. The share price has fallen by nearly 70 per cent so far this year. Competition authorities launched an investigation in 2005 after the French economy ministry was tipped off about striking similaritites in the price of a range of steel products such as bars and beams.
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