Neubiberg, Germany: Today, the European Commission adopted a decision in its antitrust investigation against four semiconductor companies active in the smart card industry including Infineon Technologies AG . The European Commission believes that the companies involved infringed European antitrust rules through the alleged sporadic exchange of competitively sensitive information. The fine for Infineon is Euro 82.8 million, while the total fine was set at Euro 138 million.
Infineon rejects the allegations as unfounded. Further, Infineon believes that its procedural rights were violated by the European Commission. Therefore, Infineon will review the decision very closely and is ready to appeal at the General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg.
As is typical in such antitrust proceedings, the fine is apportioned according to the revenue of each of the affected companies during the relevant timeframe. Consequently, Infineon was attributed the greatest portion of the total fine, simply because of its higher share in the European market for smart card chips in the relevant period between September 2003 to March 2005.
About the case
The investigation of the European Commission began in 2008. When the allegations were raised, Infineon conducted a thorough investigation and concluded that none of its personnel acted improperly in handling competitively sensitive information regarding smart card chips. Since that time, Infineon has been presented with no credible evidence contrary to that conclusion.
In 2011, the European Commission initiated settlement discussions with the three other semiconductor companies. The European Commission invites companies to discuss settlement only if it believes they were part of a cartel. Infineon was not invited to the settlement talks. The settlement discussions ended unsuccessfully in 2012, and the European Commission surprisingly resumed the proceedings against Infineon in April 2013.
Link to the press release of the European Commission of September 3, 2014.