Interbrew said today that it welcomed the clearance of its commercial practices by the European Commission, after an investigation into the Belgian wholesale market.

"Following Interbrew's commitment to apply several amendments and to make its rebates system in the wholesale trade entirely transparent for all wholesalers, the European Commission has agreed to a settlement," the brewer said in a statement.

Consequently, the European Commission has found that the commercial practices as amended are not anti-competitive.

Today's announced conclusion of the case by the European Commission follows last year's 'Comfort Letter,' which allows Interbrew, under certain conditions, to enter into distribution contracts with its on-trade customers in Belgium.

Interbrew-Belgium will apply the agreed amendments by 1 January 2005 and will continue to service its wholesale customers in full transparency, the company said.

"As a consequence Interbrew-Belgium will communicate the entire rebates scale to each and all of its wholesalers, making the system completely transparent," Interbrew said.

In addition, the company said that rebates granted to wholesalers for availability of Interbrew products in their tied outlets will no longer be progressive i.e. not linked anymore to the number of such tied outlets. 

Furthermore, Interbrew will continue to grant its wholesalers transparent commercial incentives, and continue to provide them with appropriate business support, however without right of first refusal.

Finally, Interbrew agreed to terminate its distribution agreement with the Haacht brewery.

"Following this settlement reached with the European Commission, we are looking forward to further developing business activities with all Horeca partners, in a constructive way and within a free market environment", said Alain Beyens, regional president Benefralux.