EU Commission fines styrene purchasers 157 million euros for cartel

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission on Tuesday fined five companies a total of 157 million euros ($162.9 million) for participating in a cartel involved in purchasing on the styrene monomer (styrene) market.

The Commission, which oversees competition policy in the 27 nation European Union, said the companies conspired to lower the industry reference price of styrene from May 2012 to June 2018.

The Commission set fines of 43 million euros for Synthomer, 32.6 million euros for Trinseo, 32.5 million euros for Synthos, 31.7 million euros for Sunpor and 17.2 million euros for Synbra.

It did not fine a sixth company, Ineos, which also participated in the cartel but revealed its existence to the Commission. All companies had their original fines reduced by 10% for admitting involvement.

Styrene is an intermediate chemical product that serves as a key input for many other chemicals, such as plastics, resins, rubbers and latexes.

($1 = 0.9639 euros)

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Foo Yun Chee)