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EU executive probes French supermarket giants for possible collusion

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The European Commission says it is investigating two of France’s largest supermarket chains, Casino and Intermarche, on suspicion that they may have colluded to keep prices artificially high.

The European Commission made this announced on Monday in Brussels.

In November 2014, the two retail groups, Casino Guichard-Perrachon and Les Mousquetaires  set up a joint venture to purchase branded products at better prices, the commission said.

However, the alliance may have gone further and engaged in anticompetitive behaviour.

Buying alliances between retailers can bring lower prices to consumers for food and personal care brands that they purchase on a daily basis, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager noted.

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“Such benefits can, however, disappear quickly if retailers use these alliances to collude on their sales activities,’’ she added.

The commission which acts as the European Union’s competition watchdog carried out unannounced inspections at both retailers in February 2017 and in May this year as part of an initiative looking into retailers’ purchasing alliances.

Specifically, it will now investigate whether Casino and Intermarche coordinated on the development of their shop networks and on their pricing policy towards consumers, the commission said.

Companies found in breach of EU competition rules can be fined up to 10 per cent of their global turnover.

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dpa/NAN

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