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French mobile operators to appeal collusion charge


PARIS-French mobile telephone operators SFR and Bouygues Telecom said that they would take their challenges of their convictions for collusion to France's highest court of appeal.

In December, the operators lost an appeal of their November 2005 conviction for colluding to arrange market share from 2000 to 2002.

A third operator in the case, Orange S.A., would not comment on whether it intended to challenge that decision.

In the original case, France's competition watchdog, the Conseil de la Concurrence, fined the three operators a total of € 534 million ($692 million). Orange, a subsidiary of France Télécom, was fined €256 million ($331 million), SFR, €220 million ($285 million)and Bouygues Telecom €58 million ($75 million).

In a related case, the French consumer organization the Union Federale des Consommateurs-Que Choisir has filed some 12,000 complaints in Paris's commercial court on behalf of consumers overcharged by the networks, seeking a total of € 700,000 ($907, 254) in compensation. That action is aimed at demonstrating a need for class action lawsuits in France, the organization said.