* Adecco, Randstad both cooperating with investigation
* Adecco sees no material impact
* Randstad hopes for positive outcome
* Shares slightly underperform
ZURICH, July 11 The French competition authority
is investigating staffing companies including Switzerland-based
Adecco and Dutch group Randstad, the
companies said on Thursday.
Adecco, the world's largest staffing company, said it and
some of its rivals were under investigation concerning alleged
violations of French competition law, adding it was fully
A spokesman said Adecco did not expect the investigation to
have a material impact on the firm in its biggest market.
Randstad, the number two staffing firm, also said it was
cooperating and was confident of a positive outcome.
A spokesman said he assumed the investigation concerned the
unauthorised exchange of information, adding officials from the
French authority had visited Randstad's office in Paris on
Wednesday, seizing some documents.
A French competition authority spokesman confirmed that
searches had been carried out, but would neither identify the
companies targeted nor specify what was being investigated.
ING analyst Marc Zwartsenburg estimated possible fines for
Adecco and Randstad at 29 million euros ($37.3 million) and 17.7
million euros ($22.8 million) respectively, extrapolating those
figures from fines paid after an investigation in 2003-2004 that
was settled in 2010.
Zwartsenburg said that would translate into a 3-4 percent
impact on earnings per share for both firms but the hit would be
much smaller if postponed as in the previous case.
Adecco was slapped with a 32.5 million euro fine in 2009 for
colluding with rivals on pricing for key clients such as
engineer Alstom, power group EDF and retailer
Manpower, Adia and Vediorbis were also sanctioned,
with total fines for all four temporary staff firms reaching
94.4 million euros.
That decision followed raids carried out by the competition
authority in 2004 and an in-depth investigation. Randstad bought
Vediorbis parent Vedior in 2008.
Shares in Adecco were up 1.4 percent by 1308 GMT, while
Randstad shares were 0.6 percent higher. The European industrial
goods and services index was up 0.4 percent.
Adecco said in May it was starting to close recent
underperformance to the rest of the market in France, although
conditions remained challenging.