Parcel Firms Fined $737 Million for French Price Fixing

  • SNCF's Geodis unit gets largest single penalty of $215 million
  • DHL, TNT, FedEx and DPD also fined by French authority

France’s competition watchdog fined parcel delivery services including units of Deutsche Post AG’s DHL, FedEx Corp. and TNT Express NV a combined 672.3 million euros ($737 million) for colluding to increase fees.

Geodis SA, owned by French railway company SNCF, received the largest single penalty of 196.1 million euros, while La Poste SA’s Chronopost was fined 99.2 million euros and DHL’s French unit must pay 81.2 million euros, France’s Autorite de la Concurrence said in a statement on its website.

The French competition authority said 20 companies and an industry group coordinated annual rate increases from 2004 and 2010 and 15 of the companies also colluded on a fuel surcharge from 2004 to 2006. Regulators reduced fines for six smaller parcel firms because of financial difficulties.

Tuesday’s penalties include a 44.9 million-euro fine for DPD, also owned by La Poste, while FedEx was fined 17 million euros and TNT was ordered to pay 58.5 million euros, the French authority said. Kuehne + Nagel International AG’s Alloin unit must pay 32 million euros, and GLS, owned by Royal Mail PLC, was fined 55 million euros.

Fines by French antitrust authority handed to parcel companies
Fines by French antitrust authority handed to parcel companies

Geodis will challenge the fine at the Paris court of appeal, it said in a statement on its website. Regulators targeted companies’ discussions at a trade association before Geodis joined it, the SNCF unit said.

TNT booked a 50 million-euro provision for the fine last year and has co-operated with the investigation since 2010, the company said in an e-mailed statement. La Poste said it will study the decision before deciding on an appeal. La Poste has had a compliance program since 2011, spokeswoman Stephanie Fraisse said in an e-mail.

FedEx is analyzing the decision, which affects a unit it acquired in 2012 and behavior that occurred before March 2010, spokeswoman Ghyslaine Clodion-Korn said in an e-mail. The company reserves the right to appeal.

Kuehne + Nagel said it was only responsible for 1 million euros of Alloin’s fine since most of the penalty was for behavior before it bought the company in 2009. It is weighing an appeal, it said. Alloin came forward with evidence on the cartel in 2010, the French authority said.

The fine on GLS was covered by a provision Royal Mail made in the first quarter, according to a statement. The penalty was reduced because the company agreed not to contest the allegations and agreed to introduce a compliance program.

Deutsche Bahn AG blew the whistle on the cartel in late 2008, regulators said.

Deutsche Post spokesman Daniel McGrath said the company received the decision and is reviewing it. SNCF and FedEx didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

France’s antitrust authority is one of Europe’s most active, levying more in cartel fines than the European Commission so far this year. It fined dairy firms 193 million euros in March. The European Commission imposed 364.5 million euros in fines this year.

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