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Apple hit with record €1.1bn fine

By Lawrence Gash

French regulator finds the firm guilty of anti-competitive behaviour

Apple hit with record 1.1bn fine

France’s anti-trust authority has found Apple (APPL) guilty of anti-competitive behaviour and ordered the US tech giant to pay a €1.1bn (£1bn, $1.23bn) fine.

The competition regulator imposed its largest ever fine and stated that Apple had created cartels within its distribution network and abused the economic dependence of its outside resellers.

Isabelle de Silva, the president of the French Competition Authority, said: “Apple and its two wholesalers agreed not to compete and prevent distributors from competing with each other, thereby sterilising the wholesale market for Apple products.”

The investigation in question began eight years ago, following a complaint by eBizcuss, one of Apple’s "premium resellers".

A spokesperson for Apple described the decision as “disheartening,” before adding: “It relates to practices from over a decade ago and discards 30 years of legal precedent that all companies in France rely on with an order that will cause chaos for companies across all industries. We strongly disagree with them and plan to appeal.”

French authorities, at both a regulatory and governmental level, have been much stricter on the world’s leading tech firms than other nations. In January the same regulator hit Apple with a €25m fine, after finding the company had purposefully slowed the performance of older iPhones.

Last year president Emmanuel Macron implemented a digital tax which targeted the FAANGs, much to his US counterpart’s chagrin. Defending his decision Macron described the existing trend as a “crazy” system that gives tech giants a “permanent tax haven status”.

While Washington and Paris clashed and made up over the issue in January, France’s general attitude to the likes of Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Google has remained the same.

By mid-afternoon US trading, Apple’s share price fell 7.58 per cent to stand at $256.90, amid a major marketwide sell-off.

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