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23 September 2010
Following a complaint from Schenker Privpak, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Surveillance Authority has fined Posten Norge AS (the Norwegian Post Office), a limited liability company that is 100% owned by the state, €12.89 million for abuse of its dominant position. The decision has been appealed to the EFTA Court.
Posten Norge is the national postal operator in Norway and the leading provider of parcel delivery services to consumers in Norway. Between 2000 and 2006, Posten Norge established a post-in-store concept, whereby Norwegian consumers could pick up their parcels in their local grocery shops, petrol stations and so on. Through exclusive agreements with these outlets, Posten Norge reserved attractive pick-up spots for itself and, according to the authority, made it difficult for competitors to establish a competing national network for parcel delivery to consumers.
The authority found that Posten Norge, through this network of exclusive agreements, had abused its dominant position in the market for the distribution of parcels from mail order and e-trade companies to Norwegian consumers. Without these exclusive agreements, the authority found that competing providers of delivery services would have been able to compete more effectively and the prices for parcel delivery services could have been lower, to the benefit of both mail order and e-trade businesses and, ultimately, Norwegian consumers.
When deciding the size of the fine, the authority took into account elements including:
Posten Norge, which is also facing an action for damages from Schenker Privpak, has stated that the decision will be appealed to the EFTA Court on the basis that there are more than 30,000 outlets in Norway which could be used for similar delivery services, and that Posten Norge's exclusivity network comprised only 1,200 of these.
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