CarPostal France, the French subsidiary of the Swiss PostBus company, has reached a €6.2 million (CHF7.1 million) settlement deal with three French regional bus firms. In 2016, it had been ordered to pay damages for unfair competition but later appealed to a Paris court.
In a statement on Tuesdayexternal link, Swiss Post confirmed that after several years of negotiations CarPostal France/CarPostal Interurbain had come to an agreement with the Rhône Alps bus firms Cars Faure, Cars Berthelet and Réunir Dauphiné.
This follows CarPostal Franceexternal link’s appeal before the Paris Court of Appeal after it was sued in a Lyon commercial court in September 2016 for unfair competition and ordered to pay €11 million in damages.
Tuesday’s agreement ends a legal fight and should now enable each side to “concentrate on their professional activities in a calmer environment”, Swiss Post wrote.
French bus company owners had argued that payments from Swiss Post to its French subsidiary were illegal government subsidies. CarPostal was only able to win the regional bus route contracts advertised by the French public authorities by using price dumping, they claimed. These dumping offers were sometimes 30% below cost price, they said.
Switzerland’s PostBus has been operating in France through its subsidiary since 2004. It runs several urban networks and regional transmission lines.
In Switzerland, Swiss Post has been under intense scrutiny since a Transport Office audit last year discovered that its subsidiary PostBus – known for its alpine network of yellow commuter buses – had manipulated accounts between 2007 and 2015 to pocket millions in federal and cantonal subsidies.
In addition to the post’s ongoing internal investigation into the matter, administrative criminal proceedings have been opened relating to the subsidiary company’s financial irregularities.
The PostBus subsidies scandal has already resulted in the resignations of the head of the Swiss Post, Susanne Ruoff and vice-chairman of the board of Swiss Post, Antonio Vassalli. All PostBus managers have been discharged over lack of trust. On Tuesday, Susanne Blank, staff representative on the Swiss Post board announced she was stepping down but denied she had failed in her duties whilst in charge.