By Norihiko Shirouzu and Samuel Shen
BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Daimler AG's
"We confirm that we are assisting the authorities in their investigation," Mercedes-Benz said in a statement, issued in response to a query from Reuters on whether the office had received anti-trust officials from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
Asked about the nature of the investigation, Beijing-based Mercedes-Benz spokesman Senol Bayrak said the automaker is only confirming that anti-trust officials visited the office as part of an investigation. He declined to elaborate, saying it is "an on-going matter".
A little-known Shanghai publication known as Jie Mian reported nine officials from the NDRC's anti-trust investigation team sprung a surprise visit at Mercedes-Benz's Shanghai office on Monday morning. The publication said the team interviewed many senior executives and confiscated computers as part of an investigation blitz into Mercedes-Benz.
Over the weekend before, Mercedes-Benz said it would lower prices on more than 10,000 spare parts by an average of 15 percent. The cut followed a sweeping reduction of prices for repair and maintenance services Mercedes-Benz announced last month.
The automaker is the latest foreign company to be targeted by Chinese regulators, who have ramped up anti-monopoly investigations in industries ranging from pharmaceuticals to electronics.
Regulators officially named U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm Inc
China is stepping up efforts to bring companies into compliance with an anti-monopoly law enacted in 2008, having in recent years targeted industries as varied as milk powder and jewelery.
Such investigations have led to substantial fines at a number multinational companies, including Mead Johnson Nutrition Co
(Additional reporting by Gerry Shih in BEIJING; Editing by Christopher Cushing)