Arla probe reveals milk monopoly plans

Scandinavian dairy producer Arla Foods was engaged in a plan to “completely shut competing companies out of the market”, Swedish competition authorities allege.

Arla probe reveals milk monopoly plans

But Arla denies the charges, which came to light on Wednesday in court documents filed by the Swedish Competition Authority (Konkurrensverket).

In April, the competition agency carried out a raid of Arla Food offices in Sweden and Denmark as part of a probe into suspected crimes against competition rules in relation to Arla’s relationship with the Coop and Axfood grocery chains.

Documents recovered in the raid indicate that Arla has a comprehensive plan to crush competing food companies by including clauses in its contracts forcing retailers to exclude the competition.

In a brief submitted to the Stockholm District Court reviewed by The Local, the Competition Authority writes that letters of intent were signed “with Netto, Bergendahlsgruppen and/or Lidl, and that Arla was negotiating on and eventually entered into a contract with Ica”, referring to several major food retailers in Sweden.

The documents were found on computers in Arla offices searched as a part of the April raid.

Arla, however, remains doubtful of the agency’s allegations.

“I don’t understand where this is coming from. Our only ambition is to serve our customers in the best way possible,” said Tobias Wåhlén, head of external communications at Arla Foods, to the Aftonbladet newspaper.

“We can’t see how there are any grounds for these suspicions.”

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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.