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Royal Dutch Shell and Dow Chemical lost a court appeal

July 15/2011

(Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell and Dow Chemical lost a court appeal on Wednesday against a fine levied by EU regulators five years ago for taking part in a cartel, but the court cut a fine imposed on Italy's Eni. The General Court, Europe's second-highest, also annulled penalties levied against Czech petrochemicals group Unipetrol and Polish company Trade-Stomil.

"With regard to Unipetrol, its subsidiary Kaucuk and Trade-Stomil, the Court considers that the evidence admitted by the Commission is not sufficient for a finding that those companies participated in unlawful agreements," the court found.

For Eni and its Polimeri Europa subsidiary, the court cut the joint fine to EUR 181.50 mln from 272.25 mln, saying a change in corporate structure and control had undermined the European Commission's argument that the companies had repeated an infringement.

But the Court upheld the EUR 160.88 mln fine on the Royal Dutch Shell group. And while it annulled part of the Commission's ruling against Dow, it did not reduce the fine of EUR 64.58 mln.

The European Commission had levied a total fine of EUR 519 mln against the five companies in 2006 for fixing prices and sharing customers for certain types of synthetic rubber used to make tyres, shoe soles and golf balls between 1996 to 2002.

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