The National Court has provisionally suspended the fine of 194 million euros imposed on July 12 by the National Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC) on several companies of the technology companies Amazon and Apple. The regulator then determined that both companies reached agreements that restricted competition in online sales through the store. on-line of Amazon, and that these pacts affected both third-party resellers of Apple products and competitors of the apple firm. The courts, however, in an order dated last December, have heard the appeal presented by the two American multinationals, which leaves the final imposition of the fine in the air.
Specifically, Competition verified the existence of an agreement between both groups to prevent other companies from selling Apple products such as computers (Mac), mobile phones (iPhone), tablets (iPad) and others (Apple Watch and AirPods among others) in the Amazon website in Spain. In addition, the advertising spaces where competing Apple products can be advertised on the Amazon Spain website were limited, as detailed by the CNMC at the time.
The sanction affected them unequally. Apple had to pay 143 million, divided into the 128.64 million with which Apple Distribution International Ltd was punished, and the 15 million to Apple, Inc. The CNMC resolution fined Amazon a little less, 50.51 million. The amount required jointly was the second highest ever imposed by the CNMC, only behind the sanction of 203.6 million euros that the six main Spanish construction companies (Acciona, ACS, FCC, Ferrovial, OHLA and Sacyr) for having arranged thousands of public tenders for 25 years.
The judicial body has also provisionally suspended the prohibition on both companies from contracting with the public administration, a measure that appeared in the CNMC resolution. The National Court, however, insists that both Apple and Amazon must stop the conduct that caused the fine imposed by the CNMC.
In its appeal, Amazon alleges that full payment of the sanctions would mean the immediate commitment of “almost 25% of the liquid assets as of December 31, 2022 of the companies” affected. “These are sums that are allocated both to current company expenses (such as payment to suppliers, salaries, etc.), and to capital investments already planned and ongoing throughout Europe, including the opening of new distribution centers. and storage, which results in bringing distribution closer to customers and, therefore, a more sustainable distribution,” the order states.
Amazon also argues that the fine would multiply the losses of its companies Amazon Services Europe, Amazon Europe Core; Amazon EU; and Amazon Online Spain. “The accounting situation of the sanctioned companies as a whole would result in losses amounting to 720,446,350 euros. As of December 31, 2022, ASE, AEC and AEU have debts with the Public Treasury, Social Security and third parties that, in total, amount to 3,295,988,782 euros.”
For its part, Apple argues in its appeal that the sanction threatens its investments in Spain. “The payment of the fine could put at risk the ability, incentives and/or capacity of the appellants to make investments in the supposedly affected market, and in particular in the market place from Amazon in Spain”, highlights the car. And it considers the amount demanded by the CNMC “completely disproportionate in comparison with the volume of business and profits obtained by these [sociedades] in Spain”.
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