France’s competition watchdog on Tuesday fined 20 package delivery firms, including the French divisions of FedEx, TNT and DHL Express, a total of 672.3 million euros ($740 million) for colluding to artificially increase fees. In a statement released Tuesday, the competition authority said that the price rises, implemented over a period of six years through 2010, were especially damaging to small businesses that use package delivery services.
“Meetings were organized regularly before and after new pricing rounds, which enabled the companies to homogenize their price demands and secure their commercial negotiations,” the competition watchdog said, in the statement. “The discussions were kept secret and there was no official record taken.”
In a 2007 case outlined in the statement, the competition authority said that companies that were originally considering an annual price increase of 5 percent hiked their fees by 7 percent following the secret meetings.
The penalties include a 44.9 million euro ($45 million) fine on DPD, owned by a subsidiary of the French postal service La Poste, a 17 million euro ($18.7 million) fine on FedEx, a 58.5 million euro ($68.3 million) fine on TNT, and an 81.2 million euro ($89.3 million) fine on DHL’s French unit.
“In calculating penalties, the Competition Authority has taken into consideration the seriousness of the facts, the extent of the damage caused to the economy and financial business,” the watchdog said.
In a statement following the announcement, FedEx said that while it “accepts the decision,” the practices fined by the watchdog were carried out by another company Tatex, which FedEx acquired in 2012.
“[FedEx] has a longstanding commitment of compliance with all laws, including competition laws, in all countries in which it operates,” the company reportedly said in a statement.