On Jan. 6, 2015, the French Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by Orange against the decision of the Paris Court of Appeal of July 2013, which confirmed the decision of the French Competition Authority (FCA) to fine telecoms operator Orange 60 million euros (US$68.8 million). The fine resulted from Orange's abuse of a dominant position in French overseas territories French Guiana, Martinique and Guadeloupe. The original decision by the FCA had found that between 2000 and 2005, Orange's wholly owned subsidiary, Orange Caraïbe, had attempted to prevent competitors from entering the market and to limit the growth of other operators. Orange Caraïbe's anticompetitive behaviour was found to include signing exclusivity agreements with suppliers and using loyalty programs to encourage customers to sign longer-term contracts. Orange Caraïbe's market share in these overseas territories is estimated to have been around 75 percent.
Orange appealed this decision on the grounds that the Court of Appeal had failed to take into account its arguments that Orange Caraïbe had acted independently. This appeal was dismissed by the Court de Cassation, which stated that there was a clear relationship between Orange and Orange Caraïbe. The fact that Orange Caraïbe's business plan took into account the specificities of the local market was not enough to counteract the fact that the subsidiary's management team and, to a certain extent, its board of directors, consisted of personnel from the parent company.
There has been some criticism that the Court de Cassation placed too much emphasis on Orange Caraïbe's high market share. However, Orange has announced that it is prepared to pay the fine and has made provision to do so. The French Supreme Court decision can be found here.
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