India's competition watchdog is examining the local branches of international courier companies like Germany's DHL, United States-based United Parcel Service (UPS), and FedEx for suspected collusion related to discounts and tariff practices, according to documents viewed by Reuters. The current investigation adds to a series of probes in the logistics sector, with a few originating in 2015. In that year, France imposed fines totaling $735 million on 20 companies, including FedEx and DHL, for covertly conspiring to raise prices.
CCI has commenced scrutiny of hundreds of thousands of emails in recent weeks as part of its investigation into the fees imposed by companies for airport services, as per a report by Reuters. Commencing in October 2022, the inquiry was triggered by a complaint from the Federation of Indian Publishers. It alleged that DHL, FedEx, UPS, and Dubai's Aramex, alongside some domestic firms, were jointly determining charges and exercising control over customer discounts. If confirmed, these actions would constitute a violation of Indian antitrust laws.
According to the documents, the publisher claimed that executives from the companies shared commercially sensitive information on volumes, charges, and discounts related to courier and storage services at airports before reaching decisions on rates.
The CCI, in its preliminary evaluation leading to the wider investigation, noted that they "appear to be sharing commercially sensitive information amongst themselves ... for taking joint or collective decision to arrive at tariffs."
If evidence of concerted action is established, the companies could face a penalty equivalent to three times the profit for each year the fee was coordinated, or 10 per cent of annual revenue for each year of the violation, whichever amount is higher.