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Bollore Loses Court Challenge Over 21 Million-Euro EU Fine

Bollore SA, an investment company controlled by French billionaire Vincent Bollore, lost a court challenge to a 21 million-euro ($26.2 million) European Union antitrust fine for fixing the prices on some paper products.

The EU’s General Court rejected the company’s arguments that the fine should be canceled or reduced because regulators didn’t respect Bollore’s defense rights in fining its former Copigraph unit, the Luxembourg-based tribunal said today.

“None of the grounds raised by the applicant in support of its conclusions, both for annulment or reformulation, are well founded,” the court said in its ruling.

Bollore previously won an appeal in 2007 against a 22.7 million-euro penalty imposed in 2001 for colluding with rivals to fix prices and share markets for carbonless, or self-copying, paper intended for the duplication of documents. Regulators then had to reimpose the fine with a 1.4 million-euro reduction in 2010 to correct the procedural error faulted in the 2007 decision. Bollore had earlier challenged the EU’s decision to hold it responsible for its unit’s fine.

Bollore will appeal the ruling to the EU’s highest court, the European Court of Justice, Michel Calzaroni, an external spokesman for the company in Paris, said in an e-mail.

France’s Bollore, Papierfabrik August Koehler AG and Distribuidora Vizcaina de Papeles, known as Divipa, were among 10 companies the European Commission fined a combined 314 million euros in 2001 for rigging prices in the 850 million-euro market for carbonless paper from 1992 to 1995.

The case is T-372/10 Bollore v Commission.

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