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File photo shows a truck fuelling/XINHUA

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Germany to probe oil majors for price-fixing

File photo shows a truck fuelling/XINHUA

FRANKFURT, Apr 4 – Germany’s competition watchdog has launched a probe against five major petrol-station groups – BP/Aral, Esso, Jet, Shell and Total – into alleged price-fixing, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

According to the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the federal cartel office is investigating reports that the five companies systematically sold petrol below the purchasing price at a number of petrol stations in order to drive independent filling stations out of business.

The groups are also alleged to have billed independent operators for wholesale petrol at higher prices than those charged to motorists at their own stations, the paper said.

The investigation will “help strengthen competition from independent service stations against this oligopoly,” anti-trust office head Andreas Mundt told the newspaper.

“It’s a signal to the five giants that we take these accusations seriously,” Mundt said.

Independently operated petrol stations account for around one third of the German market, but they, too, purchase most of their petrol from the five main groups.

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