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Competition

German anti-trust authority cracks down on beer brewer's 'cartel'

Germany's Federal Cartel Office has imposed hefty fines on five major breweries in connection with charges of beer-price manipulation. Investigations against other breweries are still ongoing, the authority said.

The German breweries Bitburger, Krombacher, Veltins, Ernst Barre and Warsteiner were slapped with a total of 106.5 million euros ($145 million) in fines, Germany's Federal Cartel Office announced on Monday.

The breweries had been found to be guilty of manipulating prices in the German beer market between 2006 and 2008, the anti-trust authority said, adding that the fine would have been much higher if the brewers had not cooperated in the investigation.

“Our investigation could prove that the breweries colluded in price-fixing, carried out mostly during face-to-face meetings and private phone calls,” Cartel Office President Andreas Mundt said in a statement.

Mundt also said that the German division of Belgian-based beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev escaped a fine as it blew the whistle on the cartel. Further investigations were under way against two national and four regional German breweries, he added.

According to the Federal Cartel Office, the five brewers colluded to artificially raise the beer price by 5 to 7 euros ($6.8 to $9.5) per hectoliter. In addition, the cartel had managed to increase prices for bottled beer by 1 euro per 20-bottle crate.

uhe/pfd (Reuters, dpa)

DW.DE