EU antitrust investigators have carried out unannounced inspections and dawn raids at a number of premises belonging to Red Bull this week.
“The Commission has concerns that the inspected company may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices,” the European Commission said in a statement yesterday (21 March).
While not naming Red Bull, the Commission added investigators have inspected a number of sites in various member states belonging to an energy drinks company.
The Austrian Federal Competition Authority confirmed to Just Drinks it had taken part and assisted investigators from the European Commission in a “dawn raid” on Monday. Investigators from the EU were joined by their counterparts in the member states where the inspections took place.
The competition authority said it is also investigating whether the energy drinks giant has violated EU antitrust rules and abused a dominant market position.
A spokesperson for Red Bull told Just Drinks: “Officials of the EU Commission visited our premises on Monday 20 March. We will cooperate with them in any matters that may concern them. Any such matter is for the EU Commission and any requests for further information should be directed to them.”
How well do you really know your competitors?
Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.
Your download email will arrive shortly
Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample
We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below formBy GlobalData
In its statement, the EU Commission said: “Unannounced inspections are a preliminary step in an investigation into suspected anticompetitive practices. The fact that the Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the company is guilty of anti-competitive behaviour, nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself.”
If a company is found to be in breach of antitrust regulations, the EU Commission can fine them as much as 10% of the group’s global turnover.
The European Commission noted in its release that under its leniency programme companies that have been involved in restrictive business practices or the operation of secret cartels can be granted immunity or a reduction in fines if they report the conduct and cooperate with Brussels.
Last October, Red Bull’s co-founder and owner Dietrich Mateschitz died at the age of 78. His 49% stake in Red Bull – which is privately owned – has passed to his son Mark Mateschitz. The Thai Yoovidhya family of Red Bull’s second co-founder hold a portion of the companies shares.
Earlier this month, Germany’s Economy Ministry reportedly waved through the sale of bottled water and CSD bottler and distributor Brandenburger Urstromquelle to Red Bull. Concerns surrounding the deal had been raised due to the Austrian energy drinks giant’s connections to Hong Kong.