India: Carlsberg and United Breweries seek leniency for colluding on beer prices

Being accused of colluding on beer prices in India, Carlsberg and Indian beer market leader United Breweries which is part-owned by Heineken have submitted evidence and agreed to cooperate in order to seek leniency, Reuters reported today. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has been investigating in alleged price-fixing for the past year and has in this context in October raided the offices of AB InBev, Carlsberg and United Breweries (inside.beer, 12.10.2018).

As Reuters reported, the CCI found e-mails that showed executives regularly discussed beer prices, potentially violating Indian anti-trust laws. The three brewers account together for about 90 percent of the Indian beer market, which totals US$7 billion per year.

Since AB Inbev seeked protection under CCI’s whistleblower-protection scheme after reporting the industry cartel to the officials, only Carlsberg and United Breweries face severe penalties, which could sum up to US$279 million for the group as a whole. Under India’s Competition Act, the CCI can impose fines up to three times the profit made in each year concerned or 10 percent of annual revenue, whichever is higher.

Under CCI’s so-called leniency program the two brewers have now filed pleas to potentially lower their fine if wrongdoing is discovered.

 

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