EU expands scope of food delivery cartel probe

European Union antitrust regulators have conducted another round of raids on two online food delivery companies headquartered inside the bloc.

The Commission did not name the companies involved, but the move follows unannounced EU inspections in July 2022, which reportedly took place at the offices of Spanish company Glovo and Germany’s Delivery Hero. Both companies later confirmed the inspections.

Last year, the EU said its actions were linked to concerns about potential violations of competition laws against the formation of cartels and other restrictive business practices. The latest inspections are a continuation of this 2022 investigation, according to the Commission, which said the scope of the investigation had broadened.

“The scope of the investigation, which initially included alleged market allocations, has now been expanded to cover additional conduct in the form of alleged no-poaching agreements and exchanges of commercially sensitive information,” a- she indicated in a press release.

Glovo and its parent company Delivery Hero have been contacted for comment.

Delivery Hero, based in Berlin, was founded in 2011 and is now present in more than 70 countries around the world, operating under a number of different food delivery and fast commerce brands, several of which have been acquired through acquisition . The latter includes Barcelona-based Glovo, a food-focused delivery app and commerce platform, which was founded in 2014 but joined Delivery Hero in late 2021.

Although this is the second round of unannounced inspections on the two food delivery companies, the Commission’s PR emphasizes that such inspections constitute “a preliminary step towards an investigation into alleged anti-competitive practices”. “The fact that the Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behavior nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself,” it adds.

There is no set legal deadline for completing investigations into anticompetitive behavior. It is therefore unclear when the investigation might conclude – or what outcome it might have. While this is notable, the Commission has broadened the scope of its research.

The EU operates a leniency program for infringing companies that choose to cooperate with cartel investigations. It also provides a whistleblower tool through which individuals and businesses can report antitrust violations anonymously.

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