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EUROPE: Heineken secures refund on cartel fine

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Heineken has secured a near-10% refund on a EUR219m (US$309m) fine handed down to the brewer by the European Commission for its part in forming a beer cartel in the Netherlands.

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Heineken will get a EUR22m rebate on the fine, the European Union (EU) General Court ruled today (16 June). However, the court did not overturn the brewer's original conviction for colluding with Bavaria, Grolsch and InBev to fix prices in the Netherlands during the 1990s. 

In 2007, the European Commission found all four brewers guilty of forming an effective cartel in the Netherlands by fixing prices, sharing commercially-sensitive information and having allocated customers. At the time, the EUR219m fine incurred by Heineken was the seventh largest in the history of EU antitrust regulation.

"We are disappointed that the General Court has not accepted all of our arguments, but we appreciate that the Court has reduced the amount of the original fine," said Heineken's current CEO, Jean-François van Boxmeer.

The brewer hinted that it may consider a further appeal. "Heineken will consider its options once it has studied the full text of the Court's decision," it said.

"Heineken mandates 100% compliance with applicable competition law and the company's competition law policy wherever it does business," the brewer added.

Of the other cartel members convicted by the European Commission in 2007, InBev escaped a fine by effectively blowing the whistle on the collusion, but Grolsch and Bavaria were docked a combined EUR54m.


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