On 5 December the European Commission issued a press release stating that it has carried out unannounced inspections in several Member States at the offices of companies active in the manufacture, distribution and retail of consumer electronic products and small domestic appliances.
On 6 December 2013, Samsung Electronics, Philips and Media Saturn revealed that they were among the consumer electronics companies raided by European Commission inspectors. All three companies said they were cooperating with the EU authorities.
One year earlier, on 5 December 2012, the European Commission announced that it had fined producers of TV and computer monitor tubes (including Philips and Samsung SDI) € 1.47 billion for cartels in the sector of cathode ray tubes spanning two decades. These fines followed raids in November 2007.
The Commission states that unannounced inspections this year are a preliminary step in an antitrust investigation. The fact that the Commission is conducting an inspection does of course not mean that a company is guilty of anticompetitive behavior. However, the commission does have to have reasons to suspect an infringement before embarking on a dawn raid. It may just be a storm in a tea cup or it may be the beginning of a new long and drawn out investigation and legal battle.