The European Court of Justice has reduced fines imposed by the European Commission against Coats Holdings Ltd and William Prym GmbH & Co for their participation in a cartel in the needles market.

The two companies were each fined EUR30m (US$41.6m) in October 2004, after the Commission found that they had joined with Entaco Group in a series of anti-competitive agreements where they shared product and geographic markets between September 1994 and December 1999.

As well as needles, other ancillary products such as pins, buttons, fasteners and zips were covered by the market sharing agreements. Specifically, the three companies shared the needle market and kept Entaco from competing in other haberdashery markets such as pins or fasteners.

The court said in a statement today (12 September) that it has reduced Prym's fine to EUR27m and Coats' to EUR20m.

Entaco was not fined, because it cooperated with the Commission.