The European Union has not ruled out legal action in its long-running probe into Coca-Cola Co.'s programme of offering rebates and rewards to retailers.

A spokesman for EU antitrust commissioner Mario Monti would not confirm reports in the Financial Times yesterday that the two sides have exchanged texts of draft agreements.

"We have always had a dialogue with the company (but) one should not exclude the legal remedies," the spokesman said.

The probe began five years ago when Coca-Cola offices in four European nations were raided after rivals charged the company with offering retailers unfair incentives to shut them out.

At issue are rebates for retailers that carry a range of Coca-Cola products and rewards for displaying Coke prominently on supermarket shelves. Lueder said the EU regulators' aims remained to ensure that "the shelf spaces of supermarkets are stocked according to the merits of the products."