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Apple handed record €1.1bn antitrust fine in French crackdown

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Apple said the French decision 'will cause chaos for companies across all industries'. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Apple said the French decision 'will cause chaos for companies across all industries'. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

AFP via Getty Images

Apple said the French decision 'will cause chaos for companies across all industries'. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Apple has been fined a record €1.1bn by French antitrust regulators after the US tech giant was criticised for anti-competitive agreements with two favoured distributors.

The French agency said Apple conspired with two wholesalers - Tech Data and Ingram Micro - in a move that thwarted wholesale competition for non-iPhone products such as Apple Mac computers. The duo were also slapped with fines of €76.1m and €63m.

"Apple and its two wholesalers agreed to not compete against each other and prevent resellers from promoting competition between each other, thus sterilising the wholesale market for Apple products," Isabelle de Silva, head of the French agency, said.

The Apple penalty is the latest crackdown on Silicon Valley by France's Autorite de la Concurrence. It fined Google €150m late last year for setting "opaque" rules for its Google Ads advertising platform that it applied unfairly and randomly. The fine comes after Apple said on Saturday it was closing its hundreds of retail stores outside of greater China until March 27, and moving to remote work in order to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Apple said the French decision "will cause chaos for companies across all industries" and vowed to appeal it.

The tech firm said it considers customers should be allowed to choose the product they want, either through Apple Retail or its large network of resellers across the country.

The fine dwarfs the previous record antitrust penalty in France for a single company - €350m - which was handed down to Orange SA in 2015.

The combined penalty for Apple and the two wholesalers is also a record.

The French regulator said the case was prompted by a complaint lodged by eBizcuss, an Apple premium reseller, in 2012.

Bloomberg

Bloomberg