Europan Union fines E.on and GDF Suez 1bn for collusion

UTILITY giants E.On and Gaz De France (GDF) Suez were fined a total of almost &pound;1bn by the European Commission&rsquo;s competition regulators yesterday, who said the pair had divided up gas markets and deprived customers of price competition.<br /><br />Germany&rsquo;s E.On and France&rsquo;s GDF Suez were fined &euro;553m (&pound;477m) each, after it emerged that they had agreed in 1975 not to compete with each other when they began to import gas through a Russian pipeline.<br /><br />&ldquo;The Commission has no alternative but to impose high fines,&rdquo; it said.<br /><br />&ldquo;They maintained the market-sharing agreement after European gas markets were liberalised, and only abandoned it definitely in 2005,&rdquo; it added.<br /><br />The Commission said it hoped the fine would send a message to energy incumbents that anti-competitive behaviour would not be tolerated.<br /><br />E.On has said the alleged anti-competitive practices referred to agreements that had expired in 2004, while GDF Suez head Gerard Mestrallet said the group would appeal against any fine imposed by the Commission.<br /><br />E.on is one of the biggest electricity generators in the UK.