EU antitrust regulators have raided a company active in the energy drinks sector in several EU countries on suspicion of taking part in a cartel and also abusing its dominance, the European Commission said on Tuesday.
Austrian energy drinks maker Red Bull confirmed that its premises had been searched, the Austrian news agency APA reported, although the company declined further comment when contacted by Reuters.
The EU executive, which also acts as the competition watchdog in the 27-country bloc, said the raids took place on Monday. It did not name the company or the countries where the raids occurred in line with its policy.
'The Commission has concerns that the inspected company may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices,' the EU enforcer said in a statement.
'The inspected company may also have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit abuses of a dominant position.'
Companies found breaching EU antitrust rules face fines of as much as 10% of their global turnover.
Inspections By The European Commission
The fact that the Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the company is guilty of anti-competitive behaviour, nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself, the Commission noted.
It further noted that there is no legal deadline to complete inquiries into anticompetitive conduct and that their duration depends on several factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the undertakings concerned cooperate with the Commission and the scope of the exercise of the rights of defence.
As part of a leniency programme by the Commissions, companies involved in a secret cartel may be granted immunity from fines or significant reductions in fines in return for reporting the conduct and cooperating with the Commission throughout its investigation.
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News by Reuters, additional reporting by ESM – your source for the latest A-Brands news. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.