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UPDATE 1-Polish regulator to investigate auction site Allegro over fees

(Adds Allegro comment)

WARSAW, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Poland’s consumer watchdog is launching an investigation into commission fees charged by Allegro, it said on Thursday, a potential setback for the online auction site as it mulls what would be Poland’s biggest IPO of recent times.

Reuters reported in July that the private equity owners of the Polish equivalent of eBay were pressing ahead with efforts to list the company on the Warsaw Stock Exchange in September, in an IPO that could value the business at about $11 billion.

“As part of the investigation, we want to determine whether Allegro derives unjustified benefits at the expense of ... sellers,” the head of watchdog UOKiK, Tomasz Chrostny, said in a statement.

“We will in particular look at the conditions for collecting and refunding fees, as well as the rules for determining their amount.”

UOKiK said it had received numerous complaints about increased commission charges on Allegro.

“There have even been suggestions that this mechanism may be used to increase the company’s valuation prior to its listing,” Chrostny said.

Allegro said in an emailed statement: “Changes to our regulations, especially regarding changes to fees or the introduction of new programs ... are preceded by a thorough analysis of the entire business environment and their goal is always to build a fair ecosystem for consumers, sellers and the Allegro platform.”

“We are convinced that the proceedings will confirm the high standards of our business”.

Visited by around 20 million people a month, Allegro is by far the most popular site of its kind in Poland, offering everything from books to cars. (Reporting by Alan Charlish and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk; editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter)

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