GERMANY: Cartel probe drags on for Carlsberg, Anheuser-Busch InBev
German authorities are investigating alleged anti-competitive practices
Germany's competition watchdog has confirmed that an 18-month-old investigation into a host of brewers is on-going, but declined to say when it will be completed.
Carlsberg and Anheuser-Busch InBev are among those being investigated by the German Federal Cartel Office – and could face substantial fines. Others reportedly being probed are German brewers Warsteiner, Krombacher, Erdinger and Bitburger and the retailer Oetker.
In a SEC filing earlier this week, A-B InBev said the probe involves an allegation of “anti-competitive vertical price maintenance by breweries vis-à-vis their trading partners in Germany”.
It added: “Depending on the outcome of the investigation, we may face fines.”
A German Federal Cartel Office spokesperson confirmed to just-drinks today (28 March) that the investigation, launched in September 2011, is still running. “As it is on-going we cannot tell you any more, but colleagues are working hard to finish it as soon as possible,” the spokesperson said. “But there is no set timetable.”
The spokesperson declined to confirm which companies are being investigated.
Carlsberg confirmed to just-drinks today that it also part of the inquiry. “I can confirm that we are being investigated and take this matter very seriously,” a spokesperson said.
Back in 2007, the European Commission slapped three brewers, Heineken, Grolsch and Bavaria, with heavy fines after its anti-trust authorities uncovered a price-fixing cartel in Holland. InBev, however, escaped a fine for blowing the whistle on the cartel to the Commission.
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