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Norwegian Retailers’ Antitrust Fines Slashed

 |  April 10, 2024

Norway’s top three food retailers are set to face fines totaling 4.9 billion Norwegian crowns ($459 million) for breaching antitrust regulations. This announcement, made by the Norwegian Competition Authority, marks a substantial reduction from the initially proposed penalty of 21 billion crowns.

The case, which has been under the scrutiny of the Norwegian Competition Authority since 2020, involves Norgesgruppen, Rema 1000, and Coop Norge. These firms were accused of engaging in cooperative practices that allegedly inflated prices, thus breaching competition laws. The focal point of the investigation was the use of so-called price hunters by these retailers. These individuals were tasked with surveying prices in competitors’ stores and were granted access to their own company’s outlets to gather data.

While the retailers have defended their actions as measures intended to enhance competition, the Competition Authority has taken a different stance. It argued that such practices likely hindered competitive dynamics in the market. Despite this, the authority has noted that the case is no longer viewed as an intentional breach of the competition act, leading to the substantial reduction in fines.

As per the latest announcement, Norgesgruppen, the largest of the three, has seen its fine reduced to 2.3 billion crowns from an initial 8.8 billion. Similarly, Rema 1000 and Coop Norge have had their fines lowered to 1.3 billion crowns each, from 7.4 billion and 4.8 billion crowns respectively.

Reacting to the Competition Authority’s decision, Coop Norge expressed its disagreement with the allegations of competition rule violations. The decision to impose fines is still preliminary, allowing the companies involved until May 2 to respond to the authority’s findings.

Source: Reuters