Greece: Heineken loses appeal against multimillion fine

A Greek court has upheld a judgement against Heineken and its 98.8% subsidiary Athenian Brewery imposing a multimillion Euro fine for abusing its strong market position in Greece for almost 20 years.

 In 2015 the Hellenic Competition Commission (HCC) found Athenian Brewery engaged in “illegal anti-competitive market abuse” and imposed a penalty of €31.5 million. The HCC found overwhelming evidence that Athenian Brewery, whose market share once exceeded 70% but has in the meantime fallen to almost 50 implemented a targeted policy to exclude competitors from wholesalers, on-trade (hotels, bars and restaurants) and off-trade retail outlets.

The accused brewery appealed the decision but the Administrative Court of Appeal in Athens found this week against the company. After a technical adjustment however, the amount was reduced to €26.7 million.

Heineken’s Director Global Communications John-Paul Schuirink said, the company “is reviewing the decision and considering its next steps.”

In case the court ruling is permanent, Heineken will face additional claims from smaller breweries, which were hampered by Athenian Brewery’s unfair trade practices. In February, Macedonian Thrace Brewery, which produces about 200,000 hectoliter annually and has a share of 5% of the Greek market, sued Heineken and Athenian Brewery in the Court of Amsterdam/Netherlands for the abuse of its dominant market position and demanded compensation of €100 million for lost revenues (inside.beer, 24.2.2017). If successful, other Greek breweries might follow the example.

 

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