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Bruxelles, 29 January 2004

Spokesperson's statement on inspections at manufacturers of elevators and escalators

Following press inquiries, the European Commission's spokesperson for Competition can confirm that, on Wednesday 28 January, Commission officials have carried out simultaneous and unannounced inspections at the premises of a number of manufacturers of elevators and escalators.

The investigation continued on Thursday and the Commission officials have been assisted by antitrust officials of the four EU Member States concerned. The offices of the industry's trade associations, the European Elevator Association and the European Lift Association, both located in Belgium, were also visited.

The Commission had good reason to believe that the manufacturers may have shared between themselves the tenders for the sale and installation of elevators and escalators and may have colluded to restrict competition with regard to after-sales services.

Surprise inspections are a preliminary step in investigations into suspected cartels and do not prejudge the result of the investigations themselves. Therefore, as a rule, the Commission does not mention the companies' names nor the countries concerned at this early stage. It is for the companies to decide whether they wish to make a public statement.

There is no strict deadline to complete cartel probes. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the exercise of the right of defence and the respect of the European Commission's consultation and other procedures.

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