By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS – Oreo maker Mondelez has set aside 300 million euros ($326 million) to resolve an EU antitrust investigation into whether it blocked cross-border sales of its products in the European Union in breach of competition rules, the company has said in a regulatory filing.
The European Commission opened a probe in January 2021 focusing on the parallel trade of Mondelez’s chocolate, biscuits and coffee between EU countries where the company is a key producer in a market worth billions of euros.
At issue is whether the U.S. company imposed restrictions on languages used on packaging and if it had refused to supply certain traders aimed at curbing imports into certain markets.
Mondelez, which also makes Cadbury and Toblerone chocolates, said it has been cooperating with the investigation and is currently in talks with the EU competition enforcer in bid to reach a negotiated, proportionate resolution.
“As of December 31, 2022, the company recorded an accrual in accordance with U.S. GAAP of 300 million euros as an estimate of the possible cost to resolve this matter,” the company said in a Jan. 31 regulatory filing.
“There is a possibility that the final liability could be materially higher than the amount accrued,” it said.
The Commission can fine companies up to 10% of their global turnover for antitrust violations.
($1 = 0.9205 euros)
(This story has been corrected to fix the year of Commission opening probe to 2021, not 2022, in paragraph 2)