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Five German Brewers Fined Total Of 107 Million Euros For Price Fixing

posted 13 Jan 2014, 08:05 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 13 Jan 2014, 08:05 ]

Five German breweries are convicted of fixing beer prices between 2006 and 2008.

MUNICHGERMANY (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 country's Federal Cartel Office on Monday (January 13) said unlisted brewers Bitburger, Krombacher, Veltins, Warsteiner and Privat-Brauerei Ernst Barre GmbH as well as seven individuals in the industry received fines as part of a settlement agreement.

"This beer cartel was based on very personal contacts", Cartel Office President Andreas Mundt said in a statement in the western German city of Bonn.

"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.

Germany is Europe's biggest producer of beer and has the third-largest per-capita consumption after the Czech Republic and Austria.


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