The European Commission (EC) has slapped fines on both Kronenbourg and Heineken. The EC today issued a €1.5m fine on Groupe Danone/Kronenbourg, while Heineken was hit by a €1m fine for striking an anti-competitive agreement in the French hotel, restaurant and café markets for beer.

Their agreement, the EU concluded, was never implemented, but Brussels has imposed the fines anyway.

The cartel-like deal followed an aggressive acquisition struggle where both breweries bought up as many wholesalers as they could, pushing up the price of these businesses.

A Commission statement today quoted a 1996 Heineken memorandum: "We have reached agreement with Danone to put an end to the stupid and costly acquisition war". Both sides agreed to stop buying wholesalers and then split the non-home market, so "that none of the two (signatories) is dominant," the memorandum said.