Arla Foods targeted in competition probe

Swedish competition authorities raided offices of Arla Foods on Tuesday to investigate whether the Scandinavian dairy producer had entered into an illegal agreement with the Coop grocery chain.

Arla Foods targeted in competition probe

Representatives from the Swedish Competition Authority (Konkurrensverket) descended on Arla’s offices in Stockholm, while the agency’s Danish equivalent made an unannounced visit at Arla’s headquarters in Viby, Denmark.

At issue is a supply agreement signed between Coop and Arla earlier in the year which authorities believe may unfairly disadvantage smaller dairy producers.

Authorities are investigating whether Arla has used its dominant position in the dairy market to undercut other smaller dairy firms.

According to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper, the agency’s warrant claimed that an exclusivity clause in the agreement resulted in an unfair limiting of choice for consumers of milk and other dairy products.

“We view this with the utmost seriousness,” said Arla Foods head Peder Tuborgh in a statement.

He added that he would be very surprised if Arla Foods had entered into an illegal agreement.

The Competition Authority emphasized that it’s important for consumers that the market for dairy deliveries to grocery store chains function well from a competitive point of view.

According to the agency, it’s still too early to say what the investigation may reveal.

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Major Swedish supermarket chain hit by cyberattack

One of Sweden's biggest supermarket chains said Saturday it had to temporarily close around 800 stores nationwide after a cyberattack blocked access to its checkouts.

Major Swedish supermarket chain hit by cyberattack
A Coop store in Stockholm. credit: Ali Lorestani/TT

“One of our subcontractors was hit by a digital attack, and that’s why our checkouts aren’t working any more,” Coop Sweden, which accounts for around 20 percent of the sector, said in a statement.

“We regret the situation and will do all we can to reopen swiftly,” the cooperative added.

Coop Sweden did not name the subcontractor or reveal the hacking method used against it beginning on Friday evening.

But the Swedish subsidiary of the Visma software group said the problem was linked to a mayor cyber attack on US IT company Kaseya on Friday.

Kaseya has urged customers to shut down servers running its VSA platform after dozens were hit with ransomware attacks.

A wave of ransomware attacks has struck worldwide recently, especially in the United States.

Ransomware attacks typically involve locking away data in systems using encryption, making companies pay to regain access.

Last year, hackers extorted at least $18 billion using such software, according to security firm Emsisoft.

In recent weeks, such attacks have hit oil pipelines, health services and major firms, and made it onto the agenda of US President Joe Biden’s June meeting with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.