The European Commission raided Dutch media group VNU and its market research unit ACNielsen in March in an antitrust probe, a spokesman for an EC executive said April 22.


BRUSSELS, Belgium (Reuters) -- The European Commission raided Dutch media group VNU and its market research unit ACNielsen in March in an antitrust probe, a spokesman for an EC executive said April 22.

"The Commission undertook unannounced inspections at the premises of VNU in the Netherlands, and its subsidiary ACNielsen in the Netherlands, Belgium, the U.K. and Cyprus, in early March," Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd said.

"It is part of an antitrust probe in the information services sector," he said, adding that the raids were to establish if there was evidence pointing to a breach of European Union competition rules.

No other companies were raided at the same time, Todd said.

Netherlands-based VNU, which publishes Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter and Entertainment Law Weekly, is also the world's top market researcher.

Its ACNielsen unit, which VNU acquired in 2001, has been mired in an antitrust dispute with U.S. rival Information Resources Inc. (IRI) since 1996.

In January, a U.S. District Court dismissed IRI's $650 million case against ACNielsen, although IRI said it would appeal.