EU antitrust regulators raid Faurecia, Tenneco, other exhaust suppliers

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) -- European Union antitrust regulators raided French partsmaker Faurecia, U.S.-based supplier Tenneco, and several auto exhaust systems makers in the latest crackdown against suspected price-fixing in the global auto industry.

The European Commission said the companies may have taken part in a cartel and abused their dominance. It did not name the companies nor the countries where the raids took place, in line with its usual policy.

But Faurecia, which is 52-percent owned by PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, confirmed the EU raids and said it is cooperating fully with the authorities. It said the company's "strict code of ethics" forbids price-fixing or any other breaches of competition law.

German exhaust system maker Eberspaecher also said it was cooperating with EU authorities.

Tenneco said regulators in Europe and the United States asked for information "as part of an ongoing global antitrust investigation concerning multiple automotive suppliers." The company said European Commission officials were at Tenneco’s Edenkoben, Germany, office gathering information for the probe.

"Tenneco has also received a related subpoena from the U.S. Department of Justice," the company said in a statement. "The company is fully cooperating with the authorities and cannot comment further due to the ongoing investigation," the statement said.

The raids do not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behavior, the Commission said in a statement on Tuesday.

Regulators in the United States, Japan, Europe and Canada have levied multimillion dollar fines in recent years against partsmakers for fixing prices of products ranging from seat belts, radiators and windshield wipers to air conditioners.

The European Commission can fine companies up to 10 percent of their global turnover for breaching EU rules. It is investigating cartels involving more than 100 car parts by more than 70 automakers.

Earlier this month it hit German engineering group Schaeffler, Sweden's SKF and three Japanese partsmakers with a total 953.3 million euro fine for taking part in a ball bearings cartel.

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