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NMa: Fines for Mobile Telephone Operators Reduced after Administrative Appeal

Following an administrative appeal procedure, the Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) affirmed its decision that the five mobile telephone operators had infringed the Competition Act by coordinating their behaviour. NMa has reduced the fine because the turnovers to which the infringement relates proved to be lower after the companies provided new information on these during the administrative appeal proceedings. In the administrative appeal stage, the evidence was assessed by an independent advisory committee which advised NMa.

The fines were imposed at the end of 2002 because T-Mobile Netherlands B.V. (previously Ben Nederland B.V.), Orange Nederland N.V. (previously Dutchtone N.V.), KPN Mobile N.V., Telfort B.V. (previously O2 Netherlands B.V.) and Vodafone Libertel N.V. had coordinated their behaviour. This coordination related to the reduction of the dealer bonus on the sale of both prepaid and postpaid mobile telephone subscriptions. NMa has reduced the fines because it appeared from the new information provided that the turnover realised by the telecommunications companies through the sale of subscriptions, to which the dealer bonus applied, was lower. The system applied in imposing the fines was not changed.

The fines which NMa set in the administrative appeal proceedings are:
- T- Mobile Netherlands B.V. EUR 14,828,000 (was previously EUR 15,200,000)
- Orange Nederland N.V. EUR 9,898,000 (was EUR 11,500,000)
- KPN Mobile N.V. EUR 12,630,000 (was EUR 31,300,000)
- Telfort B.V. EUR 4,492,000 (was EUR 6,000,000)
- Vodafone Libertel N.V. EUR 10,320,000 (was EUR 24,000,000).

The fines imposed on KPN Mobile and Vodafone were reduced the most. This was due to the fact that the infringement and the fine imposed relate to the bonus given to dealers on the sale of mobile subscriptions. Since KPN and Vodafone, as now appears, sell many subscriptions through other channels (e.g. via Internet or through their own sales outlets), the turnover on the basis of which the fine was calculated proved to be much lower than was stated earlier.

A judicial appeal against this decision on the administrative appeal may be filed with the Court of Rotterdam. A further appeal to the Trade and Industries Appeals Tribunal (College van Beroep voor het Bedrijfsleven) is also possible.