Last July, The National Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC) fined different companies of the Amazon and Apple groups 194.15 million euros. The reason, according to this organization: agree and execute certain restrictions of the competition in the online market or ‘marketplace’ of Amazon.
The decision of the National Court, which partially upholds the appeal presented by both companies against the CNMC decision, has been reflected in two cars dated December 2023, according to the documentation published in the Judicial Documentation Center (Cendoj) and reported by the newspaper ‘La Información’.
In this way, section number 6 of the Contentious-Administrative Chamber of the National Court has provisionally suspended the fines imposed on Apple Distribution International for an amount of 128.64 million euros and Apple for 15 million euros (143.64 million euros in total), as well as 50.51 million euros for Amazon Services Europe, Amazon Europe Core and Amazon EU.
In both cases, the National Court Conditions the precautionary suspension of fines on the companies providing a guarantee for the amounts indicated. The judicial body has also provisionally suspended the prohibition on all the mentioned companies from contracting with the public administration, a measure that was included in the resolution adopted by the CNMC.
However, the National Court has reiterated the obligation for both Apple and Amazon to cease the conduct which gave rise to the fine imposed by the CNMC.
The defenses of Amazon and Apple
In his appeal, amazon alleges that full payment of the sanctions imposed would imply 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 expenses of the company (such as payment to suppliers, salaries, etc.), as well as 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,” states the published order.
“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 maintain debts with the Public Treasury, Social Security and third parties that, in total, they amount to 3,295,988,782 euros,” he adds.
For its part, Manzana argues in its appeal that the fine imposed represents the percentages of sales in the online retail market of Apple brand electronic products 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 Amazon’s ‘market place’ in Spain,” the order highlights.
Second highest fine from the CNMC
This fine on Apple and Amazon is the second highest that the CNMC has imposed in its history, only surpassed by that of 203.6 million euros applied to six of the main construction companies in Spain for altering the competitive process for more than 25 years. in infrastructure construction tenders.
As reported by the CNMC in July 2023, Both companies agreed to include a series of clauses in the contracts that regulate Amazon’s conditions as an Apple distributor that affected the sale of Apple products and other brands on the Amazon website in Spain.
On the one hand, they “unjustifiably” restricted the number of resellers of Apple products on the Amazon website in Spain and, on the other, they limited the advertising spaces where competing Apple products can be advertised on the Amazon website in Spain, the CNMC then detailed. . Besides, They limited the possibility of Amazon directing marketing campaigns to customers of Apple products on its website in Spain to offer them competing products from other brands.