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European Union Fines Samsung Over AST Purchase

ORANGE COUNTY BRIEFLY

February 19, 1998|(Associated Press)

IRVINE — The European Union on Wednesday fined South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. $36,000 for failing to consult it before buying Irvine-based computer maker AST Research Inc. The modest fine was seen as the EU's way of warning companies not to ignore its fair-competition rules.

The European Commission, the EU executive agency, said the fine was relatively low because Samsung appeared to have unintentionally violated EU rules and it has since cooperated with authorities.

Although neither company is European, the commission said both have "significant activities" in the 15-nation trading bloc.

Under EU rules, the commission must investigate all major mergers and takeovers that would have an impact on EU markets. It can veto or order changes to those it decides would hurt competition. The commission can impose fines of up to 10% of revenue on firms that violate competition rules.

Samsung agreed in April to buy the 51% of AST it didn't already own.

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