BRUSSELS, May 22 (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Wednesday its anti-trust inspectors had raided the premises of two companies active in the grocery retail sector in France on May 20 on concern they broke EU antitrust rules prohibiting cartels.
French retailer Casino earlier said Commission agents visited its Paris headquarters. The Le Figaro newspaper reported that Commission agents also raided the headquarters of French peer Intermarche, but the company could not be immediately reached for comment.
"Unannounced inspections are a preliminary investigatory step into suspected anti-competitive practices. The fact that the Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself," it said.
There is no legal deadline to complete inquiries into anti-competitive conduct. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case and the extent to which the companies concerned co-operate with the Commission. (Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)