Justice has just imposed a record penalty on Orange for its business practices in the Antilles. According to information from “Capital”, the Paris Court of Appeal has just ordered the incumbent operator to pay € 181.5 million in damages and € 68 million in interest to Digicel, its competitor in the West Indies, leaving him with a total slate of 249 million euros, a sum never seen before in this type of business in France.
The operator chaired by Stéphane Richard is sanctioned for having implemented anti-competitive practices in the Antilles. Practices dating back to 2000, when the incumbent operator had started to implement a very aggressive commercial policy in order to combat the arrival of Bouygues Telecom in Overseas. What drive the operator to sell its West Indian activities to Digicel in 2006, for the sum of 155 million euros.
Not without first bringing the case before the Competition Authority, which sentenced Orange to 63 million euros fine in 2009 – amount reduced to 60 million euros fine on appeal – for abuse of dominant position.
A fine that does not satisfy Digicel, who then files a complaint before the Paris Commercial Court and claims 494 million euros in damages to Orange, a sum which will be reduced to 180 million euros in fines by the courts.
Orange’s appeal will not have worked in its favor. The incumbent operator was thus fined € 249 million in damages. What allow Digicel to absorb its debts, estimated at 7.4 billion euros. It should be noted that another operator, Outremer Telecom (now a subsidiary of SFR), also brought legal proceedings for the same reasons, obtaining a total of 3 million euros in damages.
Recall that Digicel and Free Caribbean signed in February 2020, a contract for sharing mobile networks in the Overseas for the pooling of their mobile networks in the Antilles
(Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint-Barthélémy and Saint-Martin) and in Guyana. This has been notified to Arcep, which has just asked the players in the sector to react to it in a call for participation which will close on Next July 10.