French pork major Cooperl Arc Atlantique has warned it faces bankruptcy if forced to pay a fine for fixing charcuterie prices.

In July, France’s competition watchdog issued fines totalling EUR93m to 12 firms after ruling they worked together to buy cuts of ham from slaughterhouses at lower prices or fix price increases intended to be charged to retailers.

Brittany-based Cooperl and its subsidiary Brocéliande were handed the biggest fine of EUR35.5m.

Speaking to French media, in comments confirmed by just-food, Cooperl CEO Emmanuel Commault said the business has lodged an appeal.

Last year, Cooperl posted profits of EUR29m based on EUR2.4bn in revenues but Commault told claimed a fine would exacerbate the negative impact from Covid-19 on its finances.

If the business has to pay the fine, Cooperl’s credit rating could be put in jeopardy, he insisted. “A fine of EUR35m would instantly lower Cooperl’s credit insurance rating and oblige us to find EUR100m. If we had to come up with EUR135m, we would be insolvent,” Commault said.

Cooperl claims entries in a notebook of telephone numbers that led to the group’s incrimination of are not originals and were inserted afterwards. It has instigated its own lawsuit for forgery and falsification of records.