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Exclusive: EU to fine Yazaki, Leoni, two other car parts makers - sources

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators will next week penalize four car parts makers including Yazaki and Leoni for taking part in a cartel, three people familiar with the matter said on Friday, as part of a crackdown on price-fixing in the sector.

The sources said Yazaki subsidiary S-Y Systems Technologies Europe GmbH will also be fined, along with Furukawa Electric Co <5801.T>.

Yazaki is the world's No. 1 maker of so-called wire harnessing systems, which power up the electronic components linking the vehicle's computers to various functions.

World No. 2 supplier Sumitomo Electric <5802.T> will not face sanctions, as it alerted the Commission to the cartel, the people said.

The fines from the European Commission are expected to be the first of several against car parts suppliers, many of which are under investigation for fixing prices for products ranging from thermal systems to seat belts and ball bearings.

The penalties are expected to be substantially lower than those exacted by U.S. and Japanese antitrust regulators as the companies received a 10 percent cut on top of other discounts for admitting wrongdoing, the people said.

Japan and the United States have already imposed hefty fines on several parts suppliers, with more than 10 people serving jail terms in the United States.

INITIALLY TARGETED

Next week's penalties will follow an 11-month investigation into companies making wire harnesses. "The wire harnessing decision will be next week," said one of the people.

The sources said 11 companies had initially been targeted but six were subsequently dropped from the investigation - Denso <6902.T>, Delphi Automotive , Visteon Corp , G.S. Electech, Fujikura Ltd <5803.T> and Lear Corp .

A spokesman for competition policy at the EU executive, Antoine Colombani, declined comment.

Yazaki spokesman Daichi Saito said the company was under investigation and was cooperating with the EU competition authority but declined to provide details.

Sumitomo Electric confirmed it was still under investigation by the EU competition authority but declined further comment.

Furukawa spokesman Toshinori Kimura said the company was one of those initially put under investigation by the EU but declined to comment on its current status in regard to the probe.

"We will cooperate with any further investigation," he said.

Leoni said it does not comment on speculation. "We can react to the Commission's decision only when it will be taken," Leoni spokesman Sven Schmidt said.

Visteon spokesman James Fisher said in an email: "We have not been contacted by EU regulators and have no knowledge of this."

The other companies could not immediately be reached for comment.

(Additional reporting by Yoko Kubota and Tim Kelly in Tokyo and Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Jane Merriman and David Holmes)

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