German watchdog raids offices in specialty steel probe

27 November 2015

Germany's antitrust authority said on Thursday that it had searched several offices and homes as part of an investigation of companies that make and sell special steel.

Austrian specialty steelmaker Voestalpine said it was involved, and Switzerland's Schmolz + Bickenbach said earlier that the cartel office had inspected its German subsidiary Deutsche Edelstahlwerke GmbH (DEW) in connection with an investigation into possible fixing of alloy surcharges.

"Voestalpine takes these proceedings very seriously, cooperates with the authority and currently does not expect that significant fines will be imposed against Voestalpine in these proceedings," the company said.

The Federal Cartel Office declined to name any of the targets of the investigation.

Voestalpine was one of four companies fined in 2012 for fixing the price of rail tracks in Germany. It settled the last of its then-outstanding proceedings with the German cartel office a year later.

Salzgitter said it believed that it was not affected by the latest investigation into special steel, while Outokumpu said it had not been raided or contacted by the authorities.

"Apparently, this concerns only carbon steel," an Outokumpu spokeswoman said. Outokumpu makes stainless steel.

German steel distributor Kloeckner & Co declined to comment.