Coca Cola in EU antitrust regulators' crosshairs

Bottles of Coca-Cola are displayed at a supermarket of Swiss retailer Denner, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Glattbrugg, Switzerland June 26, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

BRUSSELS, May 21 (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators have launched a preliminary investigation into Coca Cola Co (KO.N), the European Commission said on Friday.

"We can confirm that the Commission has sent out questionnaires, as part of its preliminary investigation into Coca Cola," a Commission spokeswoman said.

"The preliminary investigation is ongoing. We cannot comment on or predict its timing or outcome," she said, declining to provide further details.

Coca Cola said it received a formal request for information on Thursday.

"While we will co-operate fully with the Commission, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further while the process is on-going. We abide by European competition law, as well as all other applicable laws and regulation," a Coca Cola spokesman said.

Lobbying group EuroCommerce, whose members include Carrefour (CARR.PA), Ikea (IKEA.UL), Metro (B4B.DE) and Tesco (TSCO.L), said the sales practices of some large multinational brands were a concern to retailers and wholesalers.

"We have for many years pointed to the problems our sector faces with the makers of 'must-have' products using their market power to impose unilateral conditions and limit competition to their advantage," EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said in a statement.

German media Lebensmittelzeitung was the first to report about the EU investigation.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by Louise Heavens

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