Phones 4u collapse: operators accused of collusion

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Conversations about price fixing alleged to have happened in 2012

EE has claimed that the former chief executive of O2 Ronan Dunne suggested price fixing to its former CEO Olaf Swantee, according to documents filed at the High Court by the BT-owned operator, The Telegraph has reported.

The documents are part of a High Court case being pursued by the administrators of the retailer Phones 4u, which collapsed in 2014.

EE claims that in 2012, Dunne (who is now executive vice president at Verizon) tried to “inappropriately” discuss pricing plans with Swantee. It is alleged that Dunne suggested that O2 could limit the supply of smartphones to Phones 4u, and was trying to get Swantee to confirm that EE would not try to make up the shortfall.

According to EE, Swantee “did not agree or suggest agreement with any of [Dunne’s] suggestions”. Later on, Dunne also tried to discuss iPhone distribution plans, which Swantee also dismissed.

EE also claims that in 2012, then-Vodafone UK CEO Guy Laurence suggested to Swantee that EE should increase its pricing for 4G mobile services it was due to launch to a premium of £10 per month, rather than £5 per month. A Carphone Warehouse executive is alleged to have “made a similar suggestion” not long after.

EE claims that Swantee protested to his counterparts and reported the approaches to EE’s legal counsel.

In its filing, O2 denies collusion and that Dunne attempted to have the conversations with Swantee.

O2 and EE have declined to comment beyond their court filings. Dixons Carphone and Vodafone declined to comment.

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