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Philips, Infineon, Samsung face EU antitrust fines

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU regulators are poised to fine Philips, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Infineon Technologies AG in the coming weeks for fixing prices of chips used in mobile SIM cards, two people familiar with the case said on Tuesday.

The case started with dawn raids on the companies by the European Commission in October 2008. The European Union watchdog charged them last year with taking part in a cartel.

The chips are also used in passports, bank cards, identity cards and television systems.

"The companies may be fined in late July or possibly September," said one of the sources, who declined to be named as the EU decision is not yet public.

Officials with the commission, Philips and Infineon declined to comment. Samsung officials were not immediately available for comment. Philips said last year that the EU charges covered the period 2003 to 2004 and involved its semiconductor business which it has since sold.

The sources said Renesas Technology - a joint venture between Hitachi Ltd and Mitsubishi Electric that was bought by Renesas Electronics Corp in 2010 - would not be fined as it alerted the regulator to the cartel. Renesas Electronics said it had not publicly said it had told the regulator and was not aware that the other companies would be fined.

Companies that breach EU rules can be fined up to 10 percent of their global turnover. Dutch company Philips's 2013 turnover was 23.3 billion euros ($31.72 billion).

The chipmakers had initially sought to settle the case, which means admitting guilt in return for a 10 percent cut in sanctions, but talks broke down last year.

(Additional reporting by Harro Ten Wolde in FRANKFURT, Anthony Deutsch in AMSTERDAM and Sophie Knight in TOKYO; Editing by Matt Driskill)

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