UPDATE 3-EU raids car shipping service firms suspected of cartel
* Antitrust raids of maritime transport services firms
* Commission does not name companies inspected
* Wilh Wilhelmsen units under investigation
* Europe, Japan, U.S., other regulators involved
BRUSSELS, Sept 7 (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Friday it conducted unannounced inspections of several maritime shipping companies that are suspected of operating a cartel.
The Commission said its officials had carried out the inspections on Thursday in several EU member states but did not name the companies involved. It said the investigation was being coordinated with Japanese and U.S. antitrust authorities.
Earlier on Friday, Norwegian shipping company Wilh Wilhelmsen ASA said its 50 percent-owned Wallenius Wilhelmsen unit and EUKOR, in which it has a 40 percent stake, were under investigation by EU, Japanese, U.S. and Canadian authorities and were fully cooperating.
The Commission said the companies provided maritime transport services for cars and construction and agricultural machinery.
Danish shipping and oil group A.P. Moller-Maersk said it had not been raided.
The U.S. Justice Department said on Friday it was looking at potentially illegal pricing practices in the ocean shipping of cars, trucks, construction equipment and other products.
"We are coordinating with the European Commission, the Japanese Fair Trade Commission and other international competition authorities," said spokeswoman Gina Talamona in an email statement.
There is no specific deadline for completing cartel investigations. Their length depends on the complexity of the case and the extent of cooperation.
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