Brazil Carnival's beer contracts probed for competition violations

Brazil Carnival's beer contracts probed for competition violations
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BRASILIA/SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's annual Carnival street parties are being probed for awarding exclusive contracts to certain breweries, possibly limiting competition and driving up revelers' beer tabs, newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo reported on Monday.

A spokeswoman for anti-trust agency Cade confirmed the report that it is carrying out the investigation.

A Finance Ministry report last year named Ambev SA, Latin America's largest brewer, and Heineken NV's Amstel among the companies that have made deals with city governments to supply beer at Carnival.

The ministry said in November that the exclusivity agreements could hurt consumers by limiting competition and asked Cade to investigate further.

Ambev did not immediately respond to request for comment about the antitrust probe.

Heineken said in a statement that it repudiates "any practice that could violate the rules governing the right to free competition."

Carnival is Brazil's largest annual celebration in which millions take to the streets for parades and other public parties over several days, generally in February and March.

Cade has requested that a long list of cities, including Rio de Janeiro, report back on their procedures for awarding such deals by Friday, Estado reported.

(Reporting by Jake Spring and Gabriela Mello; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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