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Competition office opens probe against power suppliers

Hungary's competition office said it started an investigation to examine whether the country's six power suppliers abused their market position and impeded competition since the industry was partially liberalized in 2003. The office is looking into whether the distributors tried to prevent their customers from buying electricity on the deregulated market or from switching to rival suppliers since Hungary partially opened its power market to competition three years ago, the office said in a statement on Friday. The investigation started on July 20 and the office has 180 days to accept a ruling, it said. The deadline for the decision may be extended by 180 days on two occasions, the office added. Hungary first allowed its largest companies to choose power suppliers in January 2003, while households have stayed on the regulated market. Local suppliers, which set up separate units to sell electricity on the open market, have been trying to lure new customers from the regulated market and from each other. (Bloomberg)