EU Fines Styrene Buyers for Cartel

01.12.2022 - The European Commission has fined five companies a total of €157 million for forming a styrene cartel that operated from May 2012 to June 2018. Affected are Sunpor, Synbra, Synthomer, Synthos and Trinseo. As the member that blew the whistle in 2017, Ineos escaped a fine.

“With our decision today we fine six companies which participated in a purchasing cartel of styrene, a key input for many chemical products,” said the Commission’s executive vice-president Margrethe Vestager, who is also competition commissioner. The companies, she said, “colluded and exchanged information on an industry reference price for styrene. Their plan was to influence the reference price negotiations to their advantage to buy styrene at a lower price.”

Because of the volatility of styrene prices, industry players often use an industry reference price — as published by reporting agency ICIS — as a basis for their supply agreements.

All the players received a 10% reduction in their fines for admitting their involvement. Sunpor, Synthomer, Synthos and Trinseo also received an additional reduction under the Commission’s leniency program for cooperating with the investigation.

Author: Elaine Burridge, Freelance Journalist