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Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company has announced developments in the long-running EU investigation into anti-competitive practices.

In a statement to the London Stock Exchange on Friday (3 September), the company said that over the past five years, the Directorate General for Competition of the European Commission has been conducting an investigation into various commercial practices of The Coca-Cola Company and certain Coca-Cola Bottlers in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and Great Britain.

The only Coca-Cola HBC territory being reviewed is Austria.

"In the last few months, together with The Coca-Cola Company and other Coca-Cola Bottlers, we and the Commission began a dialogue to identify and address the commercial practices understood to be under review by the Commission," the company said.

"We recently submitted draft proposals that address all such practices in the European Union. The Commission has advised us that it intends to share these proposals with parties involved in the non-alcoholic beverage market, including retailers and other beverage suppliers, for their comment."

According to Associated Press, Coke has offered to scrap all rebates that require retailers to reach specific sales or growth targets. It also will no longer link discounts on flagship products to sales of new flavours or less-popular brands, and promised to drop requirements that all its products be displayed together on store shelves.

The company also will allow rivals to occupy 20% of the space inside its coolers, if its coolers are the only ones in the store, and to allow outlets, like fast-food restaurants, to serve a "guest" beverage from some Coke-branded soda fountains. Store owners would also be allowed to terminate exclusivity deals by buying the equipment after three years - two years longer than the EU had initially sought.


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