REFILE-UPDATE 1-Mercedes-Benz exec says not aware of any price probe in China

Tue Jul 22, 2014 6:06am EDT

(Refiles to fix typo in first paragraph)

SHANGHAI, July 22 (Reuters) - A China executive at Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz said he was not aware that the company was under any government probe into spare part prices.

Local and foreign media reported last week that Mercedes-Benz as well as other foreign car makers were being probed by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's price regulator, for possibly over-charging customers in China.

Nicholas Speeks, head of China sales at Mercedes-Benz, told a media briefing on Tuesday that he was not aware of such an investigation.

"We have an ongoing relationship, a good one, a constructive one with the NDRC. We've had a number of conversations with them. I'm not aware that we're under investigation," Speeks told reporters in Shanghai, when asked to comment on the reports.

"But certainly, they have expressed some concerns to us. And I think they are sincere concerns. We tend to take our own view about it, but it's an ongoing conversation," he said.

A Mercedes-Benz spokesman in China later said the concerns that Speeks was referring to were not related to monopoly concerns but were more "general" in nature.

A senior NDRC official said in February that the monopolies regulator has been collecting evidence of possible anti-competitive behaviour in the country's auto parts market.

Speeks also told the media briefing that the German premium carmaker is cutting service charges and prices of its spare parts by 20 percent in China to improve customer satisfaction.

"We have been criticized in the past about our service... and these are the things we have to get our dealers to address," he said.

Mercedes-Benz is ramping up efforts to catch up with German rivals BMW and Volkswagen AG's Audi in the world's second-biggest luxury car market. (Reporting by Samuel Shen and Kazunori Takada; Editing by Ryan Woo)