Kronenbourg, Heineken offices searched

EU investigates possible price-fixing cartel

Jan 28, 2000 - The European Commission indicated Friday it suspects Dutch brewer Heineken and French food company Danone of running a price-fixing cartel in France's beer market.


EU officials searched the offices of Danone's Kronenbourg brewing unit in Strasbourg, France and the Paris offices of Danone and Heineken as part of the investigation.

"We suspect a cartel," said spokesman Michael Tscherny. "If they have a cozy relationship about prices ... or how not to compete unnecessarily with each other, you can imagine the impact on consumers." The two companies account for as much as 80% of the French beer market, he added.

The investigation comes just months after the EU launched a similar investigation in Belgium into Danone's Maes brewing unit.

Heineken spokesman Albert Holtzappel said his company has never been the subject of such an inquiry. "Heineken sticks to the laws wherever it operates in the world," he said.

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