Electrolytic capacitors are used to store electrical energy, for example to smooth the output of power supplies and to activate camera flashes. They are used in virtually all electronic products, from televisions to games consoles and mobile phones.
The Commission has concerns that, from at least 1997 to 2014, ten Asian manufacturers of electrolytic capacitors met in a range of multilateral meetings in Japan to discuss future market trends, prices and specific customer information. These multilateral meetings appear to have been supplemented with additional bi- or tri-lateral discussions between the companies. Some of these additional discussions appear to have taken place in Europe with the European subsidiary of a Japanese company.
If established, such behaviour would violate EU rules that prohibit anticompetitive business practices such as collusion on prices (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).
The investigation started in March 2014 with investigative measures by several competition authorities around the world. The sending of a statement of objections does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.
A statement of objections is a formal step in Commission investigations into suspected violations of EU antitrust rules. The Commission informs the parties concerned in writing of the objections raised against them and the parties can examine the documents in the Commission's investigation file, reply in writing and request an oral hearing to present their comments on the case before representatives of the Commission and national competition authorities.
If, after the parties have exercised their rights of defence, the Commission concludes that there is sufficient evidence of an infringement, it can adopt a decision prohibiting the conduct and imposing a fine of up to 10% of a company’s annual worldwide turnover.
More information on this case will be available under the case number 40136 in the public case register on the Commission’s competition website.