A Paris appeals court rules Orange must pay rival Digicel close to $280M

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A Paris appeals court orders Orange to pay nearly $280 million in compensation to rival Digicel for anti-competitive practices in the French Caribbean years ago. (PIxabay)

A Paris Appeals court ruled this week that Orange, which is headquartered in Paris, must pay Digicel 181.5 million euros in damages and 68 million euros in interest, according to a story by Reuters.

In an email to FierceTelecom, a spokesperson from Orange noted that the appeals court decision confirmed the original judgment that dated back to 2017.

Reuters reported that the fine was the single biggest penalty to be paid by Orange, and that it was mulling filing an appeal in France’s highest court, the Cour de Cassation.

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"We are also very likely to appeal to the French Court of Cassation because the amounts awarded as prejudice are difficult to understand given the size of the Caribbean market and given the fact that the same court (Paris Commercial Court) awarded only 2.6 million euros to Outre Mer Telecom on the basis of the same facts and within a similar timeframe," Orange said in its email.

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Reuters said the case dated back to the early 2000s, when state-controlled Orange held sway in the telecom markets of Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana. In 2009, France's competition watchdog said Orange had hampered the rise of its rivals in those countries, mainly by signing exclusivity agreements with independent distributors and repair shops, which led to Digicel suing for damages.

After the initial ruling three years ago, Orange set aside 346 million euros in an escrow account to cover the cost of compensation. Of that amount, Digicel is slated  to receive 249 million euros while Orange will recover the rest of the funds from the escrow account.

Digicel is a Caribbean mobile phone network and home entertainment provider operating in 33 markets across the Caribbean, Central America, and Oceania regions. The company is owned by Irish businessman Denis O'Brien. It's incorporated in Bermuda, and is headquartered in Jamaica.

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