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Asus, Denon, Philips and Pioneer to pay millions for price fixing

The European Commission is handing out more fines.

EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager

EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager

Horacio Villalobos/Getty Images

Four consumer electronics manufacturers are being punished for breaking EU antitrust rules.

On Tuesday, the European Commission fined Asus; Denon & Marantz; Philips; and Pioneer for imposing fixed or minimum resale prices on their online retailers. The fines result from the companies' breach of the EU competition rules and were carried out in four separate decisions.

"As a result of the actions taken by these four companies, millions of European consumers faced higher prices for kitchen appliances, hair dryers, notebook computers, headphones and many other products. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules," EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a release. "Our decisions today show that EU competition rules serve to protect consumers where companies stand in the way of more price competition and better choice."

The EU says Asus; Denon & Marantz; Philips; and Pioneer intervened with online retailers who sell items at low prices, according to the release. Because larger online retailers automatically adjust their prices to match those of competitors, the consumer electronics firms forced the low-pricing retailers to follow the prices they requested by threatening them with sanctions such as blocking of supplies, according to the release. Consequently, the consumer electronics companies' actions led to higher prices for consumers in Europe.

All four companies admitted to infringing EU antitrust rules, the commission said. The companies' fines, which amount to more than $130 million (€111 million), were reduced since they cooperated with the commission.

"It's good that we can now leave this case behind us, and focus on the positive impact that our products and solutions can have on people," Steve Klink, head of the group press office at Philips, said in an emailed statement. "Philips attaches prime importance to full compliance with all applicable laws, rules and regulations."

"The Pioneer Group takes the decision seriously and continues to strengthen its efforts to ensure compliance with the relevant laws and regulations," said in the release a Pioneer spokesperson referred to.

Asus and Denon & Marantz didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

These firms aren't the only ones getting fined by the European Commission this month for antitrust violations. Google got fined a record $5 billion over a violation related to the Android mobile operating system. The EU said the tech giant's agreements with smartphone makers that depend on Android put those companies at a disadvantage.

First published on July 24, 11:52 a.m. PT.

Updates on July 25, 12:45 p.m. PT: Adds Pioneer statement.

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