July 27, 2018 / 1:54 PM / in 25 days

Fnac Darty fined 20 mln euros, may challenge ruling

PARIS, July 27 (Reuters) - Retailer Fnac Darty said on Friday it would examine whether to challenge a 20 million euros ($23 million) fine by the French antitrust body, after it failed to sell three out of six stores required following the takeover of Fnac by Darty.

The Autorite de la Concurrence regulator had said that failure by Fnac Darty to meet half of its commitments had “distorted competition and limited consumer choice”.

In 2016, the French Competition Authority cleared the takeover of consumer electronics group Darty by music and book chain Fnac, provided that Fnac Darty got rid of six stores in Paris city centre and the broader Paris region by end July 2017.

Fnac Darty said in a statement on Friday that three stores have been sold to buyers approved by the regulator.

In the case of two stores not yet sold - Darty Saint Ouen and Darty Belleville - Fnac Darty said it had submitted a buyer to the regulator, but that the regulator had not approved it.

For the third store, the company said it had asked for more time, which the regulator also refused.

The regulator said in its ruling that it was also asking for the disposal of the Darty Passy and Darty Montmartre stores, as a “substitute” for the stores Fnac Darty failed to sell.

Fnac Darty said it had already found a buyer for its Passy and Montmartre stores in Paris, adding that it would “examine all possible legal recourse the group could consider, to contest the disproportionate amount of the sanction.”

$1 = 0.8584 euros Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Bate Felix/Sudip Kar-Gupta

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