EU: Dutch cartel brewers reject hearing – report

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Four brewers in Holland have rejected the offer of a hearing with the European Commission in a cartel case, according to press reports.

Reuters said yesterday (6 December) that Grolsch, InBev, Heineken and Bavaria have all turned down the invitation. The companies stand accused of operating a cartel in the country between 1995 and 1999, the news agency noted.

The Comission issued its charges to the brewers in October, to which the brewers replied last month.

"We didn't (seek a hearing) because we thought we made our point clear in writing," a spokesperson for Grolsch told Reuters.

Citing a source which had seen the Commission's 95-page statement of objections, Reuters said that the brewers have been accused of operating a cartel in the retail, private label and horeca sectors.

"All the parties replied to the statement of objections and have not requested a hearing," a Commission spokesperson confirmed to the news agency.

In September, the Commission's antitrust authorities claimed that the brewers had fixed prices, allocated customers and exchanged commercially-sensitive information between themselves in Holland.

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