France’s Competition Authority (FCA) has fined 20 package delivery firms 672 million euros ($740 million) for colluding to artificially raise prices annually.
The FCA says that the price hikes happened between 2004-10, and were agreed during “secret meetings”.
The companies fined include the French divisions of FedEx Express, TNT and DHL Express with TLF, the delivery union, also included in those fined and FCA says the price rises especially damaged small businesses.
An additional fine of 1.4 million euros was issued to 15 of the companies, for agreeing on a system designed to pass on higher diesel prices to customers.
It explained one case, where some of the companies had planned an annual five per cent price increase, but after secret meetings with other delivery companies, decided to raise prices by seven per cent instead.
“Meetings were organised regularly before and after new pricing rounds, which enabled the companies to homogenise their price demands and secure their commercial negotiations,” the competition watchdog says, and adds: “The discussions were kept secret and there was no official record taken”.
In a press release, TNT confirmed it has been ordered to pay a 58 million euro fine in relation to “alleged anti-competitive behaviour in the French parcel delivery sector”.
TNT explains it has cooperated with the investigation since it started in 2010 and adds during the third quarter of 2014, it entered into a settlement agreement with the FCA and booked a provision of 50 million euros in relation to this matter.
TNT says that it will review the merits of the decision.