electrical gird 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
On Friday, Antitrust Authority director-general David Gilo notified Sweden’s ABB
AB, Japan’s Toshiba Corporation and Hitachi Ltd., France’s Alstom SA and Areva
SA, and Germany’s Siemens AG, that he might name them as a cartel in the
manufacture of gas insulated switchgear for electricity grids between April 1988
and May 2004. The main Israeli customer for this equipment is Israel
Gas insulated switchgear is a critical component
for electricity grids; it is a combination of electrical disconnects, fuses
and/or circuit breakers used to isolate electrical equipment. Switchgear
is used both to de-energize equipment to allow work to be done and to clear
faults downstream. It is important because it is directly linked to the
reliability of the electricity supply.
The Antitrust Authority has summed
the companies to a hearing, subject to which it will decide on the effect of the
alleged cartel on Israel.
The contention of an international cartel is
based on a division of national markets by the companies and price fixing in
tenders, thereby distorting them and ensuring that the manufacturer for the
designated market wins the project in it. The cartel allegedly has a powerful
effect on Israeli consumers because it lasted for a long time and because of its
effect on IEC’s cost structure.
The Antitrust Authority’s immunity
program enabled it to expose the cartel. This program allows a party –
either an individual or company (including its employees and managers) – that
was or is affiliated with a cartel to inform the Antitrust Authority about the
existence of the cartel in exchange for full immunity against criminal charges
on violations committed. The Antitrust Authority applies the program in
accordance with instructions of the attorney-general.