EU antitrust regulators investigating e-book publishers have raided several companies on suspicion of price-fixing.
The European Commission said on Wednesday it had raided companies in several member states, but did not identify the firms or countries targeted in Tuesday’s raids.
“The Commission has reason to believe that the companies concerned may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and other restrictive business practices,” it said in a statement.
Britain’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT), acting on complaints, opened a probe in January into e-book sales arrangements between certain publishers and some retailers, to see if they breached competition rules.
“We are working closely with the OFT, we are aware of their investigation,” EU Commission spokeswoman Amelia Torres said.
Among the firms active in e-books are Germany’s Bertelsmann, British-based Pearson and Bloomsbury Publishing, and Hachette Livre, a unit of France’s Lagardere SCA.
Pearson’s Penguin unit and News Corp’s book publisher Harper Collins are both under investigation by the OFT, but said they had not been raided by EU regulators.
Bloomsbury and Bertelsmann were not immediately available for comment.
Devices such as Amazon Kindle and Apple iPad tablet computer and readers from Sony have created a fast-growing mass market for e-books, which are typically priced lower than hardcover editions.