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Amazon com : EU antitrust inspectors investigate France's Casino, Intermarche

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05/22/2019 | 07:19am EDT

BRUSSELS/PARIS (Reuters) - French supermarket groups Casino and Intermarche are being investigated by EU antitrust inspectors, the companies said on Wednesday, after EU regulators said they were looking into a potential breach of rules that prohibit cartels.

The European Commission said its antitrust inspectors raided the premises of two French grocery retailers earlier this week as part of a preliminary investigation. It did not identify the companies and said the move did not mean they were guilty.

Casino said separately that Commission agents visited its Paris headquarters this week, but did not provide further details.

Le Figaro newspaper reported Intermarche's headquarters were also raided. The company told Reuters it "confirms the European Commission's ongoing probe," but declined to give details.

"The Commission has concerns that two grocery retail companies may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive businesses practices," it said in a statement.

"The fact that the Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself," it added.

There is no legal deadline to complete inquiries into anti-competitive conduct. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case and the extent to which the companies concerned cooperate with the Commission.

Casino and Intermarche announced in 2014 a purchasing alliance in France that was dissolved last year when Casino and France's Auchan sealed a global buying deal.

France has seen a flurry of purchasing alliances in recent years as supermarkets battle to keep prices down to counter fierce competition from rivals offering prices at discounts and the looming shadow of U.S. internet giant Amazon.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski, Domininique Vidalon; Editing by Louise Heavens and Mark Potter)

By Jan Strupczewski and Dominique Vidalon

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
AMAZON.COM 0.88% 1886.03 Delayed Quote.24.48%
CASINO GUICHARD-PERRACHON -0.71% 32.37 Real-time Quote.-10.29%
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Financials ($)
Sales 2019 275 B
EBIT 2019 17 620 M
Net income 2019 13 959 M
Finance 2019 29 887 M
Yield 2019 -
P/E ratio 2019 66,61
P/E ratio 2020 47,41
EV / Sales 2019 3,12x
EV / Sales 2020 2,56x
Capitalization 888 B
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Jeffrey P. Bezos Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer
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