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ThyssenKrupp Offices Raided in German Auto Steel Probe

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Feb. 28 (Bloomberg) -- ThyssenKrupp AG, Germany’s biggest steelmaker, said an antitrust watchdog in the country raided its offices in the western city of Duisburg today.

ThyssenKrupp doesn’t tolerate antitrust violations and will support the Federal Cartel Office’s investigation of steel supplies to the automotive industry, the Essen, Germany-based company said in a statement on its website.

The regulator raided four offices of three companies as well as apartments in the probe of suspected illegal deals between suppliers of semi-finished products and strip steel, the Federal Cartel Office said in an e-mailed statement today.

ThyssenKrupp last year ousted three board members in an effort to repair a boardroom tainted by corruption allegations and an ill-fated expansion in the Americas. Today’s raids add to the company’s involvement in an elevator cartel and a suit for damages by Germany’s state-owned railway operator over alleged fixing of prices for rails by ThyssenKrupp and two peers.

“We are in the process of implementing a full-scale change to the leadership culture at ThyssenKrupp,” Heinrich Hiesinger, the steelmaker’s chief executive officer, said in his company’s statement. “I take this very seriously. Anyone who doesn’t cooperate has no business working for us.”

Police supported 19 officials from the watchdog in raids across three German states, according to the statement from the Bonn-based regulator, which didn’t identify the companies involved.

Voestalpine AG, based in Linz, Austria, said in an e-mailed statement today that the Federal Cartel Office searched its offices in Munich as part of the probe and that it supports the investigation.

While the raids are based on the suspicion of antitrust law violations, they serve to gather information and don’t mean the affected companies or people involved have engaged in wrongdoing, according to the regulator’s statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nicholas Comfort in Frankfurt at ncomfort1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net

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