Heineken’s Greek subsidiary Athenian Brewery is faced with a €100m anti-trust lawsuit by Macedonian Thrace Brewery for abusing its economic power in Greece. The much smaller brewery claims that Heineken hampered the competition for years by making exclusive deals with retailers.
Macedonian Thrace Brewery, which was set up in 1996 attributes Heineken’s dominant position in the Greek beer market for its failure to achieve a better distribution of its beer. Demetri Politopoulos, founded the brewery after he returned to Greece from the USA at the age of 33. The company has shown since then consistent growth and achieved a turnover in excess of €14 million in 2011.
Nevertheless, its yearly production of 200.000 hl, which represents a domestic market share of about 5%, seems tiny compared to about 50% of Athenian Brewery. Athenian Breweryis the largest producer and distributor of beer in Greece. The company operates three breweries in Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras and a mineral water bottling plant in Lamia.
The claim by Macedonian brewery is a direct result of Heineken’s €31m fine for abusing its dominant market position imposed by a Greek court in December 2015. The ruling on request of the Greek anti-cartel authority was appealed by the Dutch brewer. The new claim will be heard at the company court in Amsterdam.
It is not the first sentence in this respect for Heineken. The world’s second largest brewer already had to pay a €198m fine by the European Commission for irregularities in the Dutch market in 2012 after the brewer lost the case through all instances up to the European Court of Justice.