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Competition

PR(08)84: Preliminary findings of the Authority suggest that Posten Norge AS has acted in breach of EEA competition rules

17.12.2008

The Authority has today sent a so-called “Statement of Objections” to Posten Norge AS. The Authority's preliminary view is that Posten Norge AS has infringed Article 54 of the EEA Agreement on abuse of a dominant position through its pursued strategy and behaviour in relation to its Post-in-Shop (Post i Butikk) network in Norway.

Posten Norge AS is the national postal operator in Norway and a leading provider of parcel delivery services. The case at hand concerns parcels sent by mail-order and e-commerce companies to Norwegian consumers (business-to-consumer parcels). In this market Posten Norge AS has had a particularly strong position. Following a complaint, the Authority has carried out an extensive investigation of the company's agreements with retail groups and outlets for the establishment of its Post-in-Shop network. The network consists of retail outlets such as grocery stores, kiosks and petrol stations from which postal services are provided. By replacing post offices with Post-in-Shops Posten Norge AS has been able to reduce its costs substantially while increasing the availability of postal services to the public. However, in doing so Posten Norge AS opted for an exclusivity strategy preventing competing suppliers of parcel services from using certain retail chains and retail outlets as collection points for their parcels.

The Statement of Objections outlines the Authority's preliminary view that the pursued strategy and behaviour of Posten Norge AS from 2000 to 2006 in relation to the Post-in-Shop network in Norway, in particular the company's use of preferential treatment and exclusivity in its agreements with retail groups and outlets, violated Article 54 of the EEA Agreement. The Authority's preliminary view is that without this behaviour, other suppliers offering delivery of business-to-consumer parcels could have challenged the leading position of Posten Norge AS in this market to the benefit of mail-order and e-commerce companies, and ultimately consumers.

A Statement of Objections is a formal step in antitrust investigations in which the Authority informs the parties concerned in writing of the objections raised against them. The addressee of a Statement of Objections can reply in writing to the Statement of Objections, setting out all facts known to it which are relevant to its defence against the objections raised by the Authority. The party may also request an oral hearing to present its comments on the case. The Authority may then take a decision on whether the conduct addressed in the Statement of Objections is compatible or not with the antitrust rules of the EEA Agreement. Sending a Statement of Objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the procedure.

 

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Per Andreas Bjørgan
Director, Competition and State Aid Directorate
tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 36




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