Heineken to fight back in EU cartel dispute

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European union Heineken

Heineken has appealed to the public in fighting against a
€219m fine imposed by the EU for breaching the bloc's competition
laws.

In a press release issued Friday, Heineken accepted that it had held meetings with its competitors, though the company rejected European Commission claims that the talks led to anti-competitive practices like colluding over price increases. The EU fine against Heineken in April for operating in a cartel with its rivals serves as a warning for manufacturers to ensure their practices meet legal standards. The case took seven years for the Commission to put together. The Commission alleges the anti-competitive practices occured between 1996 and 1999. Now Heineken said it will appeal against the decision and has citing its original argument against the fine. "Having now studied the full decision in detail, it is clear that there remain significant differences of interpretation and disagreement on some of the company's arguments,"​ the company stated. The group added that it had a strict set of practices regarding its operations. "Heineken has in place a strong competition compliance policy across the entire business and has a comprehensive code of business conduct for all employees,"​ the company stated. "Both processes are subject to annual review or audit, and compliance to competition law is recognised as being an important business principle."​ Out of the four brewers the Commission alleges were involved in the price fixing cartel, Heineken was hit with the largest fine. InBev escaped a fine by effectively blowing the whistle on its cartel colleagues, but Grolsch and Bavaria were fined a combined €54m. The bloc's competition commissioner, Neelie Kroes, was keen to paint a different picture of the group's activities. "Instead of respecting the law, they instead tried to cover their tracks by holding their meetings in various hotels and restaurants and by using code names for the cartel meetings,"​ she said in a statement following the announcement of the fines in April. In recent years the Commission has been taking more steps to prevent anti-competitive practices in the bloc. In 2006 it imposed fines worth a record €1.8bn in 2006 against companies for this reason.

Related topics Manufacturers Heineken

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