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France fines Adecco, Manpower, Randstad

February 02 2009

The French Competition Council issued fines against Adecco SA, Manpower Inc. (NYSE: MAN) and Randstad Holding NV totaling euro94.4 million (US$121.0 million) for alleged anti-competitive practices between March 2003 and November 2004. Manpower said it would appeal the council's ruling. Adecco and Randstad said they are studying the situation.

Manpower Senior VP and Legal Officer Kenneth Hunt said the fine was unwarranted.

"We are very concerned by the decision of the Competition Council, as we take seriously our commitment to the highest standards of ethical business practice as well as ensuring that we are in full compliance with the laws of the communities we serve," Hunt said. "The council's holding that our French operation was broadly engaged in a concerted practice to avoid competition on price is not supported by the facts of the case and the fine imposed by the council is excessive as a measure of the damage to the economy that the fine is supposed to reflect."

Manpower's portion of the fine was euro42.0 million (US$53.8 million). The fine was based on a calculation on gross profit from French operations.

Adecco's fine was euro34.2 million (US$43.8 million). "The company will carefully analyze the decision before taking a final position in terms of a potential appeal," the company said.

The French Competition Authority's investigation also involved Vedior NV, which was acquired by Randstad. Its portion of the fine was euro18.2 million (US$23.3 million). "Having received the findings just now, we will continue to study them carefully," Randstad said.

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