By Aditya Kalra, Abhirup Roy and Mayank Bhardwaj
NEW DELHI (Reuters) -India's antitrust watchdog on Wednesday raided local offices of several vegetable seed companies including a unit of Germany's BASF in a case related to alleged price collusion, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
Competition Commission of India (CCI) officials were raiding offices of BASF India and at least three other vegetable seed companies in an operation across the country that included the satellite city of Gurugram near New Delhi, IT hub Bengaluru and the southern city of Hyderabad, the sources said.
A spokesperson for BASF India confirmed the raids at Nunhems office, based in Gurugram. "We are yet to confirm the exact reason of the raid. We are strictly committed to high standards of legal compliance and business ethics. We will support the officials in every way possible," she said.
After Reuters published details of the raid, shares in BASF India extended losses to as much as 3.7%, before recouping some of them to close down 2.1% in Mumbai trading.
The CCI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The names of the other companies being raided were not immediately clear.
Further details of the case and the raids were also not available, as the CCI does not make anything related to its investigations of alleged price cartels public.
In recent years, the antitrust watchdog has raided several companies in case of alleged price fixing, including the likes of beer giant Carlsberg https://reut.rs/37PX2Y0 and commodities trader Glencore https://reut.rs/3yWHBIO.
Typically during such surprise raids, company officials are questioned and documents, as well as computer hard disks, are seized, which are analysed by the watchdog later as its investigation progresses.
(Reporting by Aditya Kalra and Mayank Bhardwaj in New Delhi and Abhirup Roy in MumbaiEditing by Sanjeev Miglani, Mark Potter and David Evans)