DETROIT -- A global investigation into alleged anti-competitive practices appears focused on wiring-harness makers' operations on three continents.
The authorities appear to be investigating allegations of illegal market sharing -- a practice in which one competitor won't sell into another's primary geographic market and vice versa. Proponents of such practices view them as helping to stabilize markets.
Last week the European Commission carried out "unannounced inspections" of companies in Europe; FBI investigators raided the U.S. headquarters in suburban Detroit of Denso Corp., Yazaki North America Inc. and Tokai Rika Group North America; and Japan's Fair Trade Commission raided offices of Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd., Yazaki Corp. and Furukawa Electric Co.
The European Commission did not name the companies involved in its search. But Lear Corp. of suburban Detroit acknowledged that it is part of the investigation there, while news outlets in Europe also identified Leoni Kabel GmbH of Roth, Germany, as a target.
Yazaki makes wiring harnesses and electrical connectors around the world. Leoni makes wiring harnesses in Europe. So does Lear.
The European Commission specified that companies competing in automotive electrical distribution systems, also called wiring harnesses, were targets of the investigation, a distinction not made by the U.S. Department of Justice.