Ball-bearing manufacturer SKF has confirmed representatives from the European Commission (EC) visited its facilities yesterday (8 November) in Gothenburg, Sweden and Schweinfurt, Germany to gather information about possible anti-competitive behaviour among certain bearing manufacturers.

A statement from the company noted: “SKF has a strict code of conduct which prohibits anti-competitive behaviour and is cooperating fully with the investigation. At this time, no further information is available regarding the nature or outcome of this inquiry.

The Commission said officials undertook unannounced inspections at the premises of companies active in the industry of bearings for automotive and industrial use in several Member States.

The EC has concerns the companies concerned may have violated EU anti-trust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices and were accompanied by their counterparts from the relevant national competition authorities.

Unannounced inspections are a preliminary step into suspected anti-competitive practices, but the EC stressed the development does not mean the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour, nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself.

A statement from the EC noted: “The Commission respects the rights of defence, in particular the right of companies to be heard in antitrust proceedings.

“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, the extent to which the undertakings concerned co-operate with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence.”