March 12, 2020 / 7:22 PM / 16 days ago

Italian antitrust watchdog probes Amazon, eBay over price spikes in virus crisis

The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves, France, November 5, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy’s antitrust watchdog said on Thursday it was investigating e-commerce giants Amazon and eBay for an allegedly excessive rise in the price of products such as hand sanitizer during the coronavirus crisis.

Italy is the country hardest hit by the virus in Europe, with more than 1,000 deaths and a nationwide lockdown. The antitrust authority said in a statement it had opened a probe into the two companies’ subsidiaries in Italy and in Europe in relation to an unwarranted spike in prices of items such as disinfectant gel and protective masks.

It said it would also investigate allegations of misleading advertisements for some items put up for sale on the e-commerce platforms where they were described as being effective against the coronavirus.

In a emailed statement to Reuters, eBay said the company stands ready to cooperate with relevant authorities to identify any abuse.

An Amazon spokesman said the company had no immediate comment because it was still looking into the matter.

Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Alex Richardson

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