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".
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.