Five German breweries are convicted of fixing beer prices between 2006 and 2008.
MUNICH, GERMANY (REUTERS) - Germany's antitrust regulator has fined five domestic brewers a total 107 million euros ($146 million) for colluding on price increases as part of a probe that could see more companies exposed.
"The price fixings were indeed arranged at personal meetings, during telephone calls of high ranking executives or even the company owners themselves."
The probe related to price increases agreed between 2006 and 2008. The companies have been charged for agreeing to raise the beer prices in the range from five to seven euros per barrel.
"In 2008 there was also an arrangement to spike prices for bottled beer, about one euro per crate of beer," Mundt said.
The German unit of beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev also took part in the price fixing but was spared a fine because of the information it provided, the watchdog said in a statement. The probe related to price increases agreed between 2006 and 2008.
"The lawsuit is still underway. We are still investigating two big companies that are operating nationwide," Mundt added.
Two more brewery groups and four regional brewers in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia were still under investigation, the watchdog said, without identifying the companies.
Danish brewer Carlsberg said last March it was under investigation by the German Cartel Office.
For many Germans beer is a source of national and regional pride, with the country's more than 1,300 breweries restricted to using only malt, hops, yeast and water.