Nexans may appeal €70.6m cartel fine

French cabling giant Nexans said it is considering its next move and may appeal after being hit with one of the biggest fines by the European Commission for being part of an alleged high-voltage cable industry cartel.

Nexans faces paying €70.6m ($97.3m) for its part in a plot the EC claimed involved many of the biggest suppliers to the power industry and targeted major infrastructure contracts such as offshore wind deals.

Nexans said it “will review the voluminous decision in detail to determine its next course of action which could include appeal".

It admitted the fine, plus possible follow-on claims, “could have a material adverse effect on the results of Nexans and its financial situation” when taken in conjunction with other investigations elsewhere in the world.

Nexans CEO Frédéric Vincent and COO Arnaud Poupart-Lafarge said in a joint statement: “The Commission regrettably did not take into account the lack of effect on customers, which it is not required to find in order to apply sanctions.

“We confirm our requirement of strict adherence to our ethical values as set out in Nexans Code of Ethics and Business Conduct and Antitrust Guidelines which are very clear.”

The period named for operation of the cartel was the decade from 1999, but Nexans remains a major player in European offshore wind, including through a framework agreement with sector leader Dong Energy.

The EC’s total €302m of fines includes a penalty for investment giant Goldman Sachs in its capacity as the former owner of Italian cabling giant Prysmian.

Goldman Sachs now occupies a much bigger role in the offshore wind sector as a major shareholder in Dong Energy – an investment that was hugely controversial in Denmark and caused political walk-outs.

While there is no suggestion from the EC that Goldman Sachs employees knew about the alleged cartel – which the EC said ensured cable supplies to Asia and Europe were carefully stitched up between the two continents – the bank’s appearance on the list of fines is ironic, given one of the first public utterances it made after buying into Dong.

As Rechargereported in February, Goldman’s newly-installed representative on the board said he wanted to see costs lowered in the offshore supply chain – and was willing to tap into new sources of supply in Asia if they were not forthcoming.