Royal Mail 'Faces French Competition Fine'
Royal Mail has confirmed its French parcels business is under investigation by competition authorities and admitted it may face a hefty fine.
The company said it had been served a notice by the Autorite de la Concurrence in France that it was facing allegations†of "breaches of anti-trust laws" by GLS France - an operation it bought in 2000 after purchasing the group's wider European business.
TNT Express confirmed it was also caught up in the probe, which is understood to cover the parcels business across France.
Royal Mail said: "We are currently considering the notice received from the†French regulator.
"Given the early stage of this matter, we cannot yet determine†the amount or range of potential loss; however, it is possible that it could be†material".
Some industry analysts estimated a maximum penalty of up to £160m†- equating to 10% of GLS's turnover - if any wrong-doing was uncovered.
Shares in FTSE 100-listed Royal Mail fell 1% in early trading on Wednesday.
While the GLS Group is profitable, the French operation reported a £21m loss for its last financial year.
TNT Express said it had been co-operating with the investigation since it started in 2010 and could also not rule out a "material" fine.
The French regulator said it could not give the names of the companies involved nor details†of the alleged practices being investigated.