Greek court upholds competition watchdog’s $30m fine on Heineken subsidiary
The Administrative Court of Appeal in Athens has favoured the Hellenic Competition Commission’s (HCC) decision to impose a fine of $30m against Heineken for anti-trust violations committed by the Dutch brewer’s Greek subsidiary, Athenian Brewery.
The HCC imposed the fine on Athenian Brewery following a 12-year probe into its practices. It was found that the company had allegedly violated competition laws in the country for almost two decades.
The Athenian Brewery is 98.8% owned by Heineken and sells Alfa, Amstel, and Heineken in Greece.
In December, 2015, the HCC stated that the firm had violated the Competition Act and 102 EU Treaty by implementing a “single and targeted policy that sought to exclude its competitors from the on-trade consumption market (e.g. HORECA chains and other retail outlets) and to limit their growth possibilities, over a period of fifteen years”.
The Administrative Court of Appeal in Athens has upheld the HCC's decision. Welcoming this judgement, one of the founders of Macedonian Thrace Brewery Demetri Politopoulos was quoted by News.com.au as saying: “The Competition authority and now the appeals court has reaffirmed the full extent and intensity of Heineken’s breaches of antitrust regulations in Greece.”
After the HCC’s initial ruling in 2015, MTB filed a separate lawsuit against Heineken, seeking damages of more than €100m at the Court of Amsterdam and the latest court judgement is likely to support its case.
Politopoulos continued: “Due process has triumphed despite Heineken’s disingenuous refusal to accept responsibility and their unrelenting efforts to overturn a sound decision.
“Heineken’s longstanding market manipulation must now give way to fair competition and Heineken must compensate those who have been materially damaged, including MTB.
“Greece will only succeed economically with a free and fair market that encourages investment and healthy competition.”