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Brussels, 8 November 2011

Antitrust: Commission confirms unannounced inspections in the sector of bearings for automotive and industrial use

The European Commission can confirm that, starting on 8 November 2011, Commission officials undertook unannounced inspections at the premises of companies active in the industry of bearings for automotive and industrial use in several Member States. The Commission has concerns that the companies concerned may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).

The Commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the relevant national competition authorities.

The products concerned are bearings for automotive and industrial use. The investigation should clarify the facts concerning the possible participation by the producers of bearings in agreements and/or concerted practices, in order to establish whether these agreements and/or concerted practices constitute an infringement of Article 101 TFEU and Article 53 EEA.

Unannounced inspections are a preliminary step into suspected anticompetitive practices. 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. The Commission respects the rights of defence, in particular the right of companies to be heard in antitrust proceedings.

There is no legal 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 co-operate with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence.

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