Posten likely to appeal fine

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The Norwegian postal service Posten seems likely to appeal a fine handed down this week by European competition authorities. The fine has been called “historic,” because it’s the first of its kind in Norway.

It was imposed by ESA, the surveillance authority that monitors complicance with the rules of the European Economic Area, EEA (called Europeisk Økonomisk Samarbeidsområde, EØS, in Norwegian), of which Norway is a member along with other non-EU countries including Liechtenstein and Iceland.

ESA ruled that Posten must pay a fine equivalent to NOK 102 million (about USD 16 million) for EEA breaking competition rules. The German cargo transport firm Schenker had complained that Posten prevented it from distributing letters and packages in Norway because of Posten’s “exclusive” deals with retail outlets called “post in the stores.”

ESA, after years of investigation, decided that Posten violated the EEA provision that prohibits dominant companies from exploiting market positions. Schenker complained that it lost as much as NOK 500 million because of Posten’s deals, which Posten itself dissolved in 2006.

Schenker told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) that it was preparing a compensation claim against Posten, likely to be filed in the Oslo city court (Tingrett) later this year or early next.

Posten’s chief executive told newspaper Aftenposten that the company needed the exclusive deals during a major reorganization earlier this decade. Norwegian state officials questioned the ESA fine, and it may be appealed, reported Aftenposten.

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