July 25, 2017 / 7:03 PM / a month ago

BMW halts project talks after Daimler blew whistle: Sueddeutsche

A BMW logo is seen at a car dealership in Vienna, Austria, May 30, 2017.Heinz-Peter Bader

BERLIN (Reuters) - BMW (BMWG.DE) has suspended talks with Daimler (DAIGn.DE) on future cooperation projects after its rival disclosed alleged collusion among German carmakers to cartel authorities, Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on Tuesday, citing industry sources.

BMW's top management plans to critically question future cooperation with Daimler on joint purchasing of auto parts and efforts to develop charging stations for electric cars, the daily newspaper said.

The project to develop charging sites for zero emission cars, also involving Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) and Ford's (F.N) European division, is now facing delays but will be continued, Sueddeutsche Zeitung said.

Daimler's move to blow the whistle on a possible auto-industry cartel between the Stuttgart-based carmaker, VW, BMW, Audi (NSUG.DE) and Porsche, alleging collusion on pricing and technologies, "has totally damaged" BMW's trust in Daimler, the newspaper cited an industry source as saying.

BMW declined comment while Daimler didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Though both carmakers have for years competed with VW's Audi division for the luxury sales crown, there has been media speculation that Daimler and BMW may combine their car-sharing services to better compete with U.S. rival Uber [UBER.UL]

European Union and German antitrust regulators are investigating whether BMW, VW, Porsche, Audi and Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler held meetings to discuss suppliers, prices and standards to the disadvantage of foreign carmakers.

The supervisory boards of Daimler and VW will meet on Wednesday to discuss the allegations about anti-competitive behavior among the German carmakers, sources have said.

VW supervisory board member Olaf Lies, representing the No. 2 stakeholder Lower Saxony, criticized top management for failing to inform the controlling panel about the decision to provide early evidence to antitrust authorities, regional broadcaster ffn radio reported on Tuesday.

"At the moment I cannot understand this," Lies was quoted by ffn radio as saying in an interview. "We are having this checked in a legal way whether it (prior notification) would have been necessary."

Reporting by Andreas Cremer, Edward Taylor and Ilona Wissenbach; Editing by Adrian Croft

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