Swedish Carriers Raided by EU Over Anti-Competition Concerns

(Bloomberg) -- Sweden’s biggest mobile-phone companies were raided by European Union antitrust investigators over concerns they may have conspired to prevent others from offering services to consumers.

Tuesday’s raids are a preliminary step in investigating suspected antitrust rules and don’t mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behavior, the European Commission said in an emailed statement. The regulator didn’t specify what suspected practices “preventing entry into the consumer segment” it was investigating.

Telia AB, Tele2 AB and Telenor ASA all confirmed the European Union had started a probe regarding competition in Sweden or possible abuse of their collective dominant position, and said they’d cooperate fully. CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd.’s 3, the fourth major carrier in the Nordic country of 10 million people, couldn’t immediately be reached to comment.

The four companies dominate the wireless market in Sweden with a combined market share of about 97 percent, according to the country’s Post and Telecom Authority. Cable operator Com Hem AB has repeatedly expressed interest in entering the market through a deal with the existing operators, but has been unable to reach an agreement with any of them, Chief Executive Officer Anders Nilsson told Bloomberg in an interview last month.

“Com Hem has continuous discussions with the European Commission on a number of issues, including this,” spokesman Fredrik Hallstan said in an emailed comment. “Considering that this is an ongoing investigation, we can’t currently make any further comments.”