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Brussels, 24 November 2009

Antitrust: Commission confirms inspections in Czech electricity sector

The European Commission can confirm that on 24 November 2009 Commission officials carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of the energy company ČEZ, a.s. and other undertakings all located in the Czech Republic. The Commission has reason to believe that action carried out by CEZ unilaterally or together with other players may have led to a substantial distortion of competition and resulted in the enhancement of CEZ's dominant position on the Czech wholesale electricity market. The suspected illegal conduct may comprise excluding competitors and raising prices on the Czech wholesale electricity market.

The Commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the Czech competition authority.

Surprise inspections are a preliminary step in investigations into suspected anti-competitive practices. The fact that the European 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. The European Commission respects the rights of defence of companies, in particular their right to be heard in the Commission’s proceedings against them.

There is no strict deadline to complete inquiries into anticompetitive conduct. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the undertakings concerned cooperate with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence.

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