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UCAR to Pay Record Antitrust Fine

April 08, 1998|Associated Press

UCAR International Inc. agreed to pay a record $110-million fine and plead guilty to scheming with competitors to fix prices of graphite electrodes and divide the world market among them, the Justice Department said. The fine is the largest in antitrust history, the department said. Joel I. Klein, assistant attorney general in charge of the antitrust division, said UCAR's agreement to cooperate with the continuing investigation of the worldwide cartel that raised prices for the key steel-making component "should provide a significant boost to our efforts to charge other cartel members." The government said the conspiracy, conducted at least from July 1992 until June 1997, forced steelmakers to pay higher, noncompetitive prices to manufacture numerous business and consumer items. Total sales of graphite electrodes in this country are estimated at $500 million for 1996 and more than $1.75 billion over the nearly five years of the conspiracy, the Justice Department said. UCAR said it accounted for the fine in the $340-million charge it took last week. The Danbury, Conn.-based company said it has six years to pay the fine. Its shares rose $2.31 to close at $35.13 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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