Apple fined a record $1.2 billion by French antitrust authorities

Key Points
  • The French competition authority said Apple and two wholesalers agreed not to compete on prices and distribution, "thereby sterilizing the wholesale market for Apple products." 
  • A spokesperson for Apple told CNBC it "strongly disagreed" with the decision and plans to appeal.
The facade of the new Apple Store Champs-Elysees is seen during the press visit on November 15, 2018 in Paris, France. Apple will open its largest French store on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris this Sunday, November 18, 2018.
Chesnot | Getty Images

French antitrust authorities ordered Apple on Monday to pay a 1.1 billion euro ($1.23 billion) fine for anti-competitive behavior.

The French competition authority said the iPhone-maker was guilty of creating cartels within its distribution network and abusing the economic dependence of its outside resellers. 

Two of Apple's wholesalers were also fined for agreeing on prices: Tech Data and Ingram Micro received fines of 76.1 million euros and 62.9 million euros respectively. Both companies were not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

The French authority said this penalty — totaling 1.24 billion euros — was the largest ever handed down in one case.

"Apple and its two wholesalers agreed not to compete and prevent distributors from competing with each other, thereby sterilizing the wholesale market for Apple products," said Isabelle de Silva, president of the French Competition Authority.

A spokesperson for Apple told CNBC: "The French Competition Authority's decision is disheartening. It relates to practices from over a decade ago and discards 30 years of legal precedent that all companies in France rely on with an order that will cause chaos for companies across all industries. We strongly disagree with them and plan to appeal."

Monday's announcement is the second fine that French authorities have imposed on Apple in two months. The regulators hit Apple with a 25 million euro fine in February over its software updates, which were concluded to have slowed down older iPhones.

Apple shares were down more than 13% in Monday's premarket amid a broad-based move lower in stock markets. 

Apple could see more pain as supply concerns arise, traders warn