Online electronics retailers raided over EC antitrust price fears

The EU is still concerned that online retailers may be cooperating to restrict the supply of certain consumer electronic goods.

The European Commission has said its officers raided several online consumer electronics retailers earlier this month over concerns they may have worked together to restrict the availability of products and raise their prices.

"The European Commission can confirm that on 10 March 2015, Commission officials initiated unannounced inspections in several member states at the premises of a number of companies active in the online sale of consumer electronics and consumer electrical products," an EC competition spokesman told ZDNet.

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"The Commission has concerns that the companies concerned may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit anticompetitive agreements or concerted practices."

The Commission hasn't named the companies targeted by the search, however it noted that the raids were a follow-up to initial inspections made in December 2013.

The EC was concerned at the time that several companies had agreed to restrict the supply of certain electronic goods through some online sales channels. This could in turn raise prices for the restricted goods or make them unavailable through online sales channels. Agreements like these are prohibited under EU antitrust rules.

Bloomberg reported in 2013 that Samsung, Philips, and German electronics retail giant Media-Saturn (parent of the MediaMarkt and Saturn brands) were among the companies visited as part of a probe into online sales restrictions.

The three companies confirmed at the time that they were cooperating with the EC.

Philips was not visited in the most recent round of inspections, the company told ZDNet. Samsung also confirmed it had not been visited. Media-Saturn, however, confirmed that one of its subsidiaries Redcoon had received a visit. "Redcoon is cooperating with the authorities to its full extent," a spokesperson for Media-Saturn said.

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