The cartel case dates back to the late 1990s

The cartel case dates back to the late 1990s

Heineken and Bavaria have said they are “disappointed” after Europe's highest court rejected their appeals against a reduction in fines for their part in a cartel. 

In 2007, the two brewers were fined a total of EUR273.8m (US$363m) by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for their involvement in a cartel on the Dutch beer market from 1996 to 1999. InBev, now Anheuser-Busch InBev, escaped a fine for blowing the whistle on the collusion. 

Heineken's fine was reduced last year by the ECJ’s general court to EUR198m. Bavaria's fine was also cut last June from 22.85m to 20.71m. 

But both companies argued the fines should be reduced further for legal reasons. Among the brewers' arguments were that the European Commission should not have compared the cartel with a Belgium cartel when calculating fines.

The ECJ however yesterday (19 December) rejected “all pleas put forward”, confirming the fines.

A Heineken spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that the ECJ has rejected our arguments. As there is no possibility to further appeal in this case, we have to accept the court's decision.

"Heineken fully respects competition laws and is a strong believer in competition and free markets. The company mandates 100% compliance with applicable competition laws and its own competition law policy wherever it does business."

In a statement, a Bavaria spokesperson said: “We are disappointed. We expected the court to judge differently.” 

Grolsch was initally fined for alleged participation in the cartel, but this penalty was annulled last year.