Will the EU Open an Investigation of Apple?

 
on March 22 2013 10:15 AM

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is the subject of an examination by European Union regulators over possible anti-competitive behavior regarding its contracts with wireless carriers in the European market.

According to an anonymous source via The New York Times, several carriers under contract to Apple in the European market have shared details of their contracts with the European Commission, which investigates antitrust violations in the EU. Examination is the first step to any potential antitrust investigation, although typically the European Commission will not initiate an investigation before a formal complaint is made.

A spokesperson for Joaquín Almunia, the competition commissioner of the EU, stated, “We have been contacted by industry participants and we are monitoring the situation, but no antitrust case has been opened,” reports The New York Times.

Anonymous sources via The New York Times who are familiar with Apple’s contracts with European cellphone carriers, describe them as “unusually strict.” However, since the iPhone remains one of the most popular handsets in in the world, carriers may have little recourse but to agree to the terms.

Potential fines for companies found guilty of anti-competitive behavior in the EU can range as high as a 10 percent chunk of a company’s annual sales, reports The New York Times. However, the European Commission rarely imposes fines of that magnitude since it typically meets with companies to try and settle disputes, even after a formal complaint has been lodged against them.

Investors seemed unfazed by the news since Apple shares closed up 0.14 percent at $452.73 on Thursday.

AAPL thursday 3_21

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