Beer price-fixing probe widens

EU raids offices of Europe's largest brewers

Mar 24, 2000 - A European Union investigation into possible price-fixing agreement by European brewers widened this week when European Commission investigators raided the offices of several brewers.


The officials raided the Dutch offices of Heineken, Carlsberg, Interbrew and Grolsch, among others. They also searched Heineken offices in Italy and are examining Peroni and Carlsberg in Italy, as well.

"There are suspicions about possible agreements between the big brewers concerning fixing prices, sharing of the market and exchange of commercial information," said commission spokesman Michael Tscherny. "The investigation is not limited to Italy and the Netherlands -- some big companies like Heineken are present in several countries so there may be cross-country links."

In January, EC investigators raided Kronenbourg and Heineken in France and last July raided the Leuven headquarters of Interbrew.

A spokesman for Heineken said: "We are very confident of the outcome of this investigation. The beer market in Europe is competitive."

The probe also casts a shadow over the proposed takeover by Scottish & Newcastle of Kronenbourg, Danone's brewing operation which was announced last week.

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