FTC Reportedly Begins Inquiry Into Planned Online Parts Venture

The inquiry will likely focus on the structure of the online bazaar and the possibility of illegal price coordination.
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Updated from 7:42 a.m. EST

The

Federal Trade Commission

has reportedly opened an antitrust inquiry into

plans by the Big Three automakers to create an online parts marketplace.

FTC officials have begun asking

Ford Motor

(F) - Get Report

,

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

and

DaimlerChrysler

(DCX)

about the alliance,

The Wall Street Journal

said Wednesday.

The new venture, which has yet to be named, will operate as an independent company, with purchasing power of as much as $240 billion. At the time the deal was announced last month, the companies said they didn't anticipate any antitrust hurdles.

The inquiry will likely focus on the structure of the online bazaar and the possibility of illegal price "signaling," or coordination among buyers or sellers, the

Journal

said, citing people close to the matter.

The companies said when the venture was announced that they expected it to be up and running by the end of the first quarter.

An FTC spokesman said he couldn't confirm or deny "the existence of that or any investigation."