German cartel office searches car firms in steel investigation

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE, Daimler, BMW and auto suppliers Bosch and ZF [ZFF.UL] said they were cooperating with German authorities after their offices were searched as part of a steel price fixing investigation.

Germany’s cartel office said six car manufacturers and suppliers were searched on June 23 as part of an investigation into potential price collusion by companies purchasing steel.

“In total, 50 members of staff at the cartel authority took part. They were supported by police and criminal authorities,” a spokesman for the authority said, declining to detail which companies were subjected to the probe.

A spokesman for Volkswagen said, “We confirm that representatives from the Federal Cartel Office searched the offices in Wolfsburg as part of an ongoing probe. Volkswagen supports the authority with its investigation.”

Daimler, ZF and BMW said they too had been searched and were cooperating with authorities.

Bosch said its premises in Zuffenhausen and Gerlingen-Schillerhoehe in Stuttgart had been searched. General Motors unit Opel said it was not part of the investigation.

Reporting by Matthias Inverardi, Edward Taylor and Andreas Cremer; writing by Edward Taylor; editing by Tina Bellon and David Clarke