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EU court cuts Deutsche Telekom antitrust fine by a third

Staff Writer |
Europe's second-highest court slashed an EU antitrust fine handed down to Deutsche Telekom four years ago by about a third to 19 million euros (17.09 million pounds), saying that EU regulators had erred in calculating the penalty.

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"By today’s two judgments, the General Court largely upholds the Commission’s conclusion that the undertaking formed by Slovak Telekom and Deutsche Telekom had abused its dominant position. However, it partially annulled the Commission decision and reduced the amount of the fines imposed," the court said.

Deutsche Telekom welcomed the decision but said it was not convinced by all aspects of the judgment and would consider appealing to the European Court of Justice, the highest court in the European Union.

Europe's largest telecoms provider and its Slovak Telekom unit were sanctioned by the European Commission in 2014 for squeezing out competitors by charging unfair wholesale prices in Slovakia.

The EU competition enforcer said the anti-competitive practice to shut out competitors from the Slovak market for broadband services lasted more than five years.

The two companies were given a joint fine of 38.84 million euros while Deutsche Telekom was also hit with an additional 31-million-euro penalty.

The companies subsequently challenged the EU decision at the Luxembourg-based General Court.

The Court said a parent company's liability can exceed that of the subsidiary if there are factors which reflect the former's conduct for which it is held liable.

However, in this case, what was at fault was the basis used by the Commission for assessing the additional fine.

"Deutsche Telekom's turnover is not capable of reflecting its individual conduct in the infringement at issue and ... it therefore could not serve as a basis for the calculation of an additional fine imposed on the latter," judges said.

They also cut the joint fine from 38.84 million euros to 38.06 million euros.

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