Top dog telecoms deny market-fixing allegations

24th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 24 (AFP) - French mobile phone operators Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom have all denied working together to distort competition in their market following a newspaper report that said the French competition authority was preparing charges.

PARIS, Aug 24 (AFP) - French mobile phone operators Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom have all denied working together to distort competition in their market following a newspaper report that said the French competition authority was preparing charges.

The newspaper Canard Enchainé reported that the competition commission had notified the three operators of its grounds for complaint on December 1, 2004 based on a report by the DGCCRF, a body that investigates allegations of fraud and competition abuse.

A spokesman for SFR echoed comments made by counterparts at Orange -- owned by France Télécom -- and Bouygues. He said the company "vigourously" denied "the existence of any deal or other form of control of the market for mobile telecommunications in France".

The company said the document cited by the newspaper was not a formal decision by the competition commission and had been wrongly interpreted.

According to the Canard Enchaîné, the report prepared by the DGCCRF alleged that the operators had met secretly since 1997 to exchange confidential data that allowed them to adapt their commercial strategies to market changes.

A spokesman for Bouygues, the smallest of the operators with 17 percent of the market, said it was "absurd to claim that Bouygues Télécom could have been part of a deal to limit its market share at a much lower level than comparable operators elsewhere in Europe".

The spokesman said Bouygues had complained about the SFR-Orange duopoly to the competition commission itself. SFR and Orange have 83 percent of the market.

The competition commission, which can impose heavy financial sanctions, is expected to rule on the complaints by the end of the year, according to the Canard Enchaîné.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, telecom, mobile phone, price-fixing, Orange, France Télécom, SFR, Bouygues, DGCCRF, Canard Enchaîné

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