Belgium: AB InBev is running a high risk of being fined in antitrust case

The risk for AB InBev of being fined in a Belgium antitrust claim has increased. Reuters reported today that EU antitrust regulators aim to fine the brewing giant for blocking cheap beer imports of its Jupiler and Leffe brands from neighboring France and the Netherlands instead of accepting a settlement.

Usually companies which are being accused in such a case try to settle investigations by offering concessions. The Commission normally accepts this option to shorten lengthy procedures and to restore competition in the short term. According to sources close to the matter which are cited by Reuters an out-of-court settlement has become now unlikely

Fines can amount up to 10 percent of the global turnover.

Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner in charge of competition policy, announced last year the EU commission’s preliminary view after a year-long investigation: "Belgian consumers may have had to pay more for their favourite beers. Our preliminary finding is that AB InBev may have deliberately prevented cheaper beer imports out of France and the Netherlands from reaching consumers in Belgium. Such practices would breach EU competition rules, because they deny consumers the benefits of the EU Single Market – choice and lower prices." (inside.beer, 30.11.2017)

In another antitrust case in the United States a federal judge dismissed this year a claim against AB InBev and Molson Coors Brewing for formal errors. (inside.beer, 18.5.2018)

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