• Alcogroup and Lantmaennen also face EU investigation
  • EU suspects trio colluded on benchmarks published by Platts

The European Union’s antitrust arm added to Abengoa SA’s woes on Monday by opening a formal probe into suspicions the company colluded with Alcogroup and Lantmaennen to rig ethanol benchmarks published by Platts.

The trio may have agreed to submit or support bids with view to influencing benchmarks upwards and thus driving up ethanol prices, the European Commission said in a statement. Such practices could harm consumers and the environment, it said.

“Competitive biofuels markets are crucial to promote cleaner transport and to cut greenhouse gas emissions,” Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief, said on Monday. “This is an important element of the commission’s ambitious strategy to limit greenhouse gas emissions and to boost renewable energies.”

Abengoa, a Spanish renewable energy producer, filed for preliminary protection from creditors last month and has four months to reach an agreement with creditors under Spanish bankruptcy law. If talks with creditors fail, it will need to file for full creditor protection, a step that leads to liquidation in more than 90 percent of cases in Spain, according to rating company Axesor.

Sweden’s Lantmaennen, Abengoa and Brussels-based Alcogroup didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

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