EU investigates French supermarkets in antitrust case

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BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Commission is investigating whether two of France's largest chains of retail shops have infringed the bloc's competition rules by colluding on sales activities.

It wants to find out if Casino and Intermarché, owned by Les Mousquetaires, engaged in "anticompetitive conduct" through a buying alliance they set up in 2014. EU Commission officials carried out inspections at the premises of both companies two years ago and again in May.

The investigation will establish whether the groups coordinated in building their network of shops and setting prices.

EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said joint-buying "can bring lower prices to consumers for food and personal care brands that they purchase on a daily basis. Such benefits can, however, disappear quickly if retailers use these alliances to collude on their sales activities."

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