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19.01.2012 15:35
Antitrust Authorities Raid French Water Companies over Cartel Doubt
The EU’s fight against “defensive cartels and collusive practices” is “one of our priorities in this time of crisis,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a speech yesterday
AUTHOR: publics.bg


  • © pierre-alain dorange@flickr.com

Veolia Environnement SA (VIE), the world’s biggest water utility, Suez Environnement SA (SEV) and Saur SA face a formal probe by European Union antitrust regulators into possible collusion to fix the price of water and waste-water services in France.
 
The European Commission will examine whether the French utilities and their trade group the Federation Professionnelle des Entreprises de l’Eau, or FP2E, “coordinated their behavior” on “elements of the price invoiced to final consumers,” usually French local government authorities, it said in a statement.
 
Regulators raided the three companies in 2010 over concerns that they colluded in public tenders for water distribution and treatment. The companies have a combined market-share of 69 percent for water distribution and 55 percent for water treatment, according to a study published by FP2E, on its website. Both markets are worth about 12 billion euros a year.
 
Suez Environnement and its unit Lyonnaise des Eaux “will continue to fully cooperate with the European Commission competition services in charge of this investigation and reiterate their commitment to respecting the rules of competition in the markets where they operate,” the company said in an e-mailed statement.
 
FP2E said it “has always been very vigilant in respecting the rules of competition,” according to an e-mailed statement. The trade association “will fully cooperate to help the regulatory authorities to reach an objective view of the specifics of the French market.”
 
Veolia takes note of the formal commencement of the inquiry and will cooperate fully with the Commission, it said in an e- mailed statement today.
 
Saur didn’t return a call for comment.
 
The EU’s fight against “defensive cartels and collusive practices” is “one of our priorities in this time of crisis,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a speech yesterday, as quoted by Bloomberg.
 
Suez Environnement was last year fined 8 million euros by the EU for breaking a seal regulators attached to an office door during the 2010 raid.

TAGS: France | water suply | waste water treatment | cartel | competition | Veolia | Suez | Saur | FP2E | European commission 


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