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UPDATE 2-EU regulators raid rail companies over suspected cartel

(Adds no comment from Austrian chancellor, former head of OBB)

BRUSSELS, July 6 (Reuters) - European Union regulators raided several passenger rail transport companies on June 28 to investigate whether they may have taken part in a cartel to shut out competitors, the European Commission said on Wednesday.

Austrian railway operator OBB, which was headed by Christian Kern until he became the country’s chancellor in May, said it was among those raided by EU antitrust regulators. A spokeswoman said raids were carried out at various locations in Austria.

Kern had no comment on the raids.

“The Commission has concerns that the companies concerned may have entered into anti-competitive agreements aiming to shut out competing rail passenger transport operators from the market, in breach of EU antitrust rules,” the Commission said in a statement, without naming the companies.

Such unannounced inspections are a preliminary step in an investigation into suspected cartels and do not mean the companies are necessarily guilty.

EU regulators raided Austrian rail operators last November, including OBB, to investigate whether they had breached EU antitrust rules prohibiting cartels and restrictive practices. (Additional reporting by Kirsti Knolle in Vienna; editing by Jane Merriman and Susan Thomas)

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