Tenneco to Faurecia Raided in EU Car-Exhaust Cartel Probe

Tenneco Inc., Faurecia SA and Eberspaecher Group were raided by European Union antitrust regulators investigating possible collusion between manufacturers of car-exhaust systems.

Officials made unannounced inspections at company offices in several European countries, the European Commission said in a statement today. The EU is concerned the companies have violated rules outlawing cartels and abuse of a dominant market position. Tenneco said it also got a related subpoena from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Regulators across the world have been clamping down on car-parts manufacturers. The EU is investigating more than 100 auto components and as many as 70 companies in what EU antitrust Commissioner Joaquin Almunia called “one of the largest cartel investigations ever conducted.”

“Faurecia is one of the companies being investigated” in today’s probe of suppliers of emissions control systems, the Nanterre, France-based company said in an e-mailed statement. Faurecia, 52 percent owned by PSA Peugeot Citroen, “is cooperating fully with the European Commission authorities.”

Tenneco, based in Lake Forest, Illinois, said EU officials visited a facility in Edenkoben, Germany to gather information, according to an e-mailed statement. The company is cooperating with the authorities and can’t comment further.

Tenneco shares fell as much as 3.9 percent in New York trading after it published the statement.

Eberspaecher, a closely-held Esslingen, Germany-based company, is also being investigated, Gabriela Schoppe, a spokeswoman for the company, said in a telephone interview.

Manufacturers of ball bearings for cars were fined a combined 953.3 million euros ($1.3 billion) last week, adding to earlier fines for makers of foam for car seats and wire harnesses for car electrical systems.

In the U.S., companies including Bridgestone Corp. have agreed to pay more than $2 billion in antitrust probes of car-parts makers.

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