The Hungarian Competition Authority has imposed a fine of HUF 15 million (EUR 39,100) on Heineken Hungária Sörgyárak Zrt. (Heineken Hungary Breweries) and mandated the establishment of a compliance program, as reported today by Magyar Nemzet.
The investigation conducted by the organization revealed that Heineken had, in contravention of legal prohibitions, entered into an almost exclusive supplier arrangement with a restaurant in the capital. This Dutch-owned brewery effectively encouraged the restaurant to source the majority of its beer exclusively from Heineken.
In doing so, both entities violated the new trading regulations by limiting consumer choices and impeding other beer producers from participating in fair competition. The Competition Council of the Authority considered Heineken's past violation record, along with the fact that the current misconduct was a deliberate attempt to circumvent regulations aimed at promoting the entry of smaller players into the market.
In light of these findings, Heineken Hungária Sörgyárak Zrt. has been fined HUF 15 million based on the turnover of the single restaurant investigated, and the Competition Council has prohibited the continuation of such infringing behavior.
Additionally, the Hungarian Competition Authority has instructed the brewery to establish an internal compliance program to ensure that its business practices do not incentivize pubs to exceed legal limits.
Woda Bt., the operator of the restaurant involved in the case, received a warning instead of a fine due to its lesser role in the infringement. The small Budapest-based company has also been directed to establish internal procedures to ensure compliance with competition law and prevent future violations.
Heineken Hungária Sörgyárak Zrt., which has historical roots dating back to 1895, and has been part of the Heineken Group since 2003, currently operates from two sites in Hungary: the Sopron brewery in the northwest and the Martfű brewery in central Hungary, with its headquarters located in Budapest.