Vivendi Loses EU Court Bid for Antitrust Fight With Orange

Vivendi SA lost a European court challenge to have an antitrust complaint against Orange SA considered by European Union regulators.

The EU General Court in Luxembourg today rejected the appeal, deciding that the European Commission “was not bound to pursue a detailed investigation” because the services concerned “had only limited effects on the functioning of the retail markets.” The decision can be appealed.

France’s telecommunications operators are fighting to keep phone bills from slipping further amid price wars that have intensified since Iliad SA became the fourth carrier to sell both fixed and mobile packages in January last year. As of June, Orange, France’s former phone monopoly, had 26.7 million mobile customers and 33.9 million fixed broadband subscribers, while rival SFR, a Vivendi unit, had 21 million mobile and 5.2 million fixed subscribers.

Lawyers for Paris-based Vivendi in February told the EU court in a hearing that the commission’s July 2010 decision wrongly and insufficiently assessed the complaint that France Telecom, now known as Orange, abused its dominant position.

Vivendi declined to comment on today’s ruling.

The case is: T-432/10, Vivendi v. Commission.

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