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France investigates Apple contracts with telcos - report

PARIS (Reuters) - France's finance ministry is investigating the conditions that Apple imposes on mobile operators that sell its smartphones, according to French media BFMTV.

An administrative body known as the DGCCRF, which is tasked with consumer protection and assuring competition, is looking into a variety of clauses in Apple's contracts with mobile operators, including sales volume requirements, advertising restrictions, and commissions given to sales staff.

Operators such as France's Orange and Vivendi's SFR have often complained in private about the sway that Apple holds in negotiations since no operator could afford not to have the iPhone in its line-up.

The DGCCRF declined to comment on the report. Apple France did not respond to a request for comment.

Apple's French office were also searched in July by antitrust regulators from the Competition Authority, which is investigating the firm's relationship with its wholesalers.

Les Echos newspaper said at the time that the competition watchdog was also looking into the way Apple sells products on its App Store where consumers can buy everything from newspapers to video games.

In March, it also emerged that the European Union is looking into potential antitrust violations involving the distribution of Apple iPhones and iPads, after receiving what sources said were informal complaints from telecoms operators.

(Reporting by Leila Abboud and Noelle Mennella)

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