Romanian antitrust body starts investigation into Orange for possible abuse of dominant position

Romanian antitrust body starts investigation into Orange for possible abuse of dominant position
By bne IntelliNews April 4, 2016

Romania’s antitrust body, the Consiliul Concurentei, has started an investigation into mobile operator Orange Romania for possible abuse of its dominant position, the telecoms company announced on April 4.

Orange is the biggest Romanian mobile telecom operator with 10.1mn subscribers at the end of last year.

Orange previously came under investigation for abuse of its dominant position, and in 2011, Orange Romania and the second biggest player on the Romanian mobile telecom market, Vodafone, were fined a total of €63mn. Orange was fined €34.8mn and Vodafone received a €28.3mn fine. The fines represented around 3% of the companies’ 2010 turnover. The two companies challenged the fined, and in 2013 Romania’s highest court of appeal confirmed the fine against Vodafone, while waiving Orange’s fine.

The current investigation refers to possible antitrust practices by Orange Romanian in its relations with companies active on the SMS payment market and the SMS advertising market, Consiliul Concurentei said in a statement.

As part of the investigation, unannounced inspections have been carried out at the headquarters of Orange and the SMS payment aggregators, and documents have been seized. The documents are currently being analysed by the Romanian antitrust authorities.

“Unannounced inspections represent a preliminary step within the investigation procedures of a possible antitrust behavior. These inspections do not represent a prior decision regarding the guilt of the companies under investigation or the final result of the investigation,” Consiliul Concurentei said.

The revenues of Orange Romania, a unit of France’s Orange, rose to €947mn last year from €909mn a year before. In the fourth quarter alone, its revenues went up to €250mn from €233mn in the fourth quarter of 2014. On the local market, Orange competes with the local units of Vodafone and Telekom.

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