Brussels--The European Union has opened an investigation into Taiwan-based PC brand Asustek Computer Inc. (??) and three other consumer electronics suppliers for alleged anti-trust practices.
In a statement posted on its website Thursday, the European Commission, the EU's anti-trust watchdog, said that the commission has started an investigation into Asustek, Denon and Marantz, Royal Philips NV and Pioneer Corp. for suspected anti-competition conduct.
The commission said that the probe is aimed at finding out whether the four companies have engaged in unfair practices by breaching EU competition rules to restrict the ability of online retailers to set their own prices for widely used consumer electronics products, such as household appliances, notebook computers, and hi-fi products.
"The effect of these suspected price restrictions may be aggravated due to the use by many online retailers of pricing software that automatically adapts retail prices to those of leading competitors," the commission said in the statement.
"As a result, the alleged behavior may have had a broader impact on overall online prices for the respective consumer electronics products," the commission added.
The probe into the four companies is one of three investigations launched by the EU. The other two probes are examining whether six video game suppliers and five hotel operators have been involved in anti-competition online practices.
"E-commerce should give consumers a wider choice of goods and services, as well as the opportunity to make purchases across borders. The three investigations we have opened today focus on practices where we suspect companies are trying to deny these benefits for consumers, Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in charge of competition policy of the commission said.
"... we are looking into whether these companies are breaking EU competition rules by unfairly restricting retail prices or by excluding customers from certain offers because of their nationality or location," Vestager said.
Under EU regulations, the commission will not set any deadline for anti-trust investigations, and how the investigations will proceed will depend on whether the cases are complicated or not and whether the companies will cooperate with the EU.
In Taipei, Asustek said that it always abides by the law when it conducts business. The PC vendor said that it needs to gather information about the EU probe but will work with the EU in the investigation.
After the EU's investigation surfaced, shares of Asustek fell 1.12 percent to close at NT$266.00 on the Taiwan Stock Exchange Friday, when the weighted index ended up 0.28 percent.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel