by Veronica Pinotti, Lionel Lesur, Martino Sforza, Nicolò di Castelnuovo
In its decision of 2 April 2014 in relation to the underground and submarine high voltage power cables cartel case (COMP/39610), the European Commission (Commission) held the parent companies of the producers involved liable, on the basis that they had exercised decisive influence over the producers. The fines levied by the Commission in this case totalled €301.6 million. One of the businesses found liable was Goldman Sachs, the former owner of Prysmian, which is one of the companies that allegedly participated in the cartel.
This case has important implications for private equity funds. It confirms that, in principle, the Commission does not view private equity funds differently to other businesses for the purpose of the application of the parental liability doctrine.