Orange loses appeal against collusion fine

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A French court rejected on Thursday a final appeal by French mobile operator Orange, confirming 534 million euros in fines handed down in 2005 on France's three mobile operators for collusion.

France's competition body handed down the fines $775 million against Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom for colluding to divide the market in 2000-2002 and having exchanged confidential business information from 1997 to 2003.

Numerous appeals were launched against the fines.

France's top appeals court in 2007 confirmed the ruling and fines on collusion worth 442 million euros, but sent the portion concerning exchanging business information back to lower courts.

In April 2010 it agreed to the fines for exchanging business information against SFR and Bouygues Telecom, but said there was not sufficient evidence to back up damages to merit the 41 millions euro fine against Orange.

The Paris Appeals Court on Thursday confirmed the fine was "proportionate" to the damage caused to the French economy.

"Orange France takes note of this new ruling which confirms the amount of the fine it has already paid in this case," the operator told AFP.

© 2011 AFP

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