The European Commission said it raided several lead recycling companies in a number of European Union countries on September 26 as part of an investigation into suspected cartel practices.

The Commission did not name the countries or the companies, that it said had been buying old batteries and scrap lead for recycling.

"The Commission has reasons to believe that the companies concerned may have violated Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which prohibits cartels and restrictive business practices," it said.

The EU executive arm said the unannounced inspections were a preliminary step in its investigation and did not mean the companies were guilty of anti-competitive behavior.

(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Andrew Heavens)