The first probe initiated by the competition watchdog is against the affiliated companies under Metro (Metro Cash&Carry Romania, real, -Hypermarket Romania, MGB Metro Buying Group) and its suppliers. The second probe will be opened against Rewe Group (Selgros Cash&Carry and Billa Romania), while third will be against Mega Image, CDE R Interex and their suppliers.

The Competition said it was investigating the issues of collusions between retailers and suppliers, of operating a cartel aimed at fixing sale prices and resale prices, and of manipulating trading conditions.

The retail operations carried by the four companies account for around 40% of the total value of the modern food retailing in Romania.

“Price competition is the most important concept underlying the free-market system. Any form of constraint or inhibition of competition by price manipulation constitutes a violation of economic agents’ freedom and could harm end-consumers’ interests. Should any of these allegations of collusion prove true, the Competition Council will impose the sanctions in line with regulations, and similar antitrust behavior will be prohibited in the market”, said Bogdan M. Chiritoiu, chairman of Competition Council.

Competition Council can sanction companies that breach the competition law with fines up to 10% of their turnover. However, companies under leniency program can obtain fine-exempt status or substantial reduction in fines.