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‘We take this matter very seriously’: Carlsberg admits German cartel probe involvement

By Ben Bouckley+

27-Mar-2013

Picture Copyright: Carlsberg
Picture Copyright: Carlsberg

Carlsberg has confirmed to BeverageDaily.com that it is under scrutiny as part of a wider, ongoing investigation by the German Federal Cartel Office, which also includes AB InBev.

Spokesman Ben Morton told BeverageDaily.com this afternoon: I can confirm that Carlsberg is part of the investigation [by the Bundeskartelamt] and takes this matter very seriously.”

Morton refused to be drawn on any possible financial impact on the Danish brewer, after German weekly magazine Focus claimed recently that Carlsberg, Anheuser Busch InBev and other brewers could face fines stretching to hundreds of millions of euros.

 “At this stage, we will not comment further on market speculation,” he added.

We can’t forecast investigation end – Bundeskartelamt

Bundeskartelamt spokeswoman Martina Parulava told this publication this afternoon: I can confirm that the investigation is still ongoing. Unfortunately I can’t tell you any more details about the ongoing proceeding. Also, we cannot forcast when the investigation will be completed.“

According to Reuters, the Focus article cited other firms it said had been investigated since August 2011, including German retail chain Oetker and the brewers Warsteiner, Krombacher, Erdinger and Bitburger.

AB InBev declined to comment to Reuters yesterday, but the firm’s annual report filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on March 25 reveals the company's involvement in the German probe.

AB InBev says it could face fines

According to AB InBev, “In August 2011, the German Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) launched an investigation against several breweries and retailers in Germany in connection with an allegation of anticompetitive vertical price maintenance by breweries vis-à-vis their trading partners in Germany.”

Depending on the outcome of the investigation, AB InBev said it could face fines, but was “taking the appropriate steps in the pending proceedings but have not recorded any provisions for any potential fines at this point in time”.

AB InBev said this was due to the fact that it did not know whether it would eventually face fines and was unable at this stage to “reliably estimate the appropriate amount”.

“In addition, we cannot at this stage estimate the likely timing of the resolution of this matter,” the world’s biggest brewer added.