EU Takes the Head Off Heinken’s Market Fine

     (CN) – A European Union court cut Heineken some slack and took 10 percent off the top of its fine for controlling the beer market in Holland.

     The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, fined Heineken, its subsidiaries and several other beer producers for participating in a beer cartel in the Netherlands.
     Heineken and its subsidiaries were fined about $314 million for coordinating prices and allocating beer from 1996 to 1999.
     The violations occurred within “on-trade” markets for direct consumption, such as restaurants and bars, and “off-trade” sites, such as supermarkets.
     In response to a request by brewers to annul the fines, the General Court of the European Union shaved 10 percent off for Heineken.
     The Luxembourg-based court said insufficient evidence existed that Heineken had tried to control commercial conditions, aside from prices. The commission apparently relied on handwritten notes, which the court said made only “sporadic and brief” references to other market controls, but not enough to prove a violation.
     Heineken’s fine was reduced to about $284 million.
     Dutch brewer Bavarian saw a similarly scaled reduction, to about $30 million.
     The Grolsch group was among those fined by the commission. Multinational beer company InBev, which owns Anheuser-Busch, was granted immunity because it supplied information for the investigation.
The new, reduced fines may be appealed again.

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