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EU raids EDF offices in monopoly abuse probe

EU raids EDF offices in monopoly abuse probe

European Union regulators said Wednesday they have raided the offices of Europe's largest electricity supplier, Electricite de France SA, because they suspect it of monopoly abuse.
The European Commission said the "suspected illegal conduct may include actions to raise prices on the French wholesale electricity market."
It said Wednesday's unannounced raids _ where officials visit offices to search for evidence and seize documents _ were a preliminary step in the investigation, which could eventually lead to fines of up to 10 percent of a company's yearly global turnover.
On Tuesday, the EU executive had said it was widening a separate probe into French electricity prices, saying "artificially low" prices for energy-hungry companies could give those businesses an unfair advantage over rivals elsewhere in Europe.
In an effort to soothe EU antitrust concerns, EDF last year agreed to amend contracts with some 60 key corporate users, including the world's largest steelmaker, ArcelorMittal SA; aluminum producer Alcan Corp.; paper mill UPM-Kymmene Corp. and chemical companies Rhodia, Arkema and Solvay.
EU regulators claim that French and Belgian industrial customers have little or no real choice when it comes to buying electricity. Some 30 percent get only one offer to buy power, and at least half get only three or fewer companies to tender _ the lowest number of all EU nations.
Antitrust officials repeatedly have criticized the control that former state-owned energy companies have over the market in some European countries. Under threat of heavy fines, E.On AG and Vattenfall have agreed to sell off some of their power network to soothe EU concerns.
The French state owns 84.8 percent of EDF. It generates most of its electricity from nuclear power stations and hydroelectric plants.


Updated : 2021-06-15 18:32 GMT+08:00