Heineken will have the worst hangover, with a 219 million euro penalty. Grolsch will have to pay just over 31 million euros and Bavaria nearly 23million. It’s the latest chapter in a European Commission crackdown on cartels that has seen fines of over two billion euros imposed already this year.
The EU’s antitrust chief, Neelie Kroes: “Between at least 1996 and 1999 those brewers I just mentioned coordinated prices and price increases of beer in the Netherlands. The European Commission will not tolerate cartels and if you do take part in cartels, you will face very substantial fines.”
The world’s largest brewer InBev, the owner of Stella Artois, was also implicated in the ring but escaped a fine because it had provided what the Commission called ‘decisive information’ about the cartel. Evidence included hand-written notes taken during unofficial meetings that sought to keep prices artificially high. Bavaria, not to be confused with Millers Colombian unit of the same name, and Grolsch plan to appeal.