(Brussels) Unannounced inspections were carried out on Monday at the premises of the Austrian world leader in energy drinks Red Bull, suspected by Brussels of anti-competitive practices, the company told AFP on Tuesday.

“On Monday, officials from the European Commission visited our premises”, Red Bull told AFP, saying “cooperate of course on all matters concerning them”.

Earlier on Tuesday, the European executive, guardian of competition in the EU, announced that inspections were being carried out in several states, saying in a press release that it feared a violation “of the rules on cartels and abuse of position dominant”.

But the Commission had not specified the name of the company in question or those of the European countries in which these inspections took place.

This research “constitutes a preliminary step in an investigation into alleged anti-competitive practices”, she explained without providing further details. They do not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.

Companies involved in a secret cartel face heavy fines. However, they may benefit from immunity or a reduction in the amount of the fine if they denounce the facts and cooperate with the Commission throughout the procedure.

Following the death of its Austrian founder Dietrich Mateschitz last October at the age of 78, Red Bull has appointed three directors to run the company.

Mr. Mateschitz had belatedly created Red Bull – “red bull” in English – in 1984, after discovering the drink at the bar of a Hong Kong hotel.

He had made the brand one of the jewels of the agri-food industry in his Central European country with a big sports marketing blow and had become the richest man in Austria.

His son Mark Mateschitz now owns 49% of Red Bull. The Thai Yoovidhya family owns the rest.

The company based in Fuschl-am-See in western Austria currently employs nearly 16,000 people worldwide and sold more than 11.58 billion cans in 2022.