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German retailers fined £71m over beer price fixing

The German Cartel Office has fined several German supermarket chains a total of €90.5m (£71m) over fixing the price of beer following a six year investigation.

Three German retailers were fined a total of €90.5m (£71m)

Retailers Edeka, Metro and Netto were fined for fixing the price of Beck’s, Franziskaner and Hasseröder, beers owned by brewing giant AB InBev.

AB InBev and German retailer REWE Zentral escaped fines because of their “early and extensive cooperation” with the investigation.

Since the Cartel began its investigation into illegal pricing agreements between retailers and manufacturers in 2010, it has imposed fines totalling €242m over price-fixing involving confectionery, coffee, pet food, beer and body care products.

Andreas Mundt, president of the German Cartel Office, said: “In the sale of its premium beer brands, the brewery concerned agreed with retailers on several occasions to raise shop prices and co-ordinated the details between them, in particular reference dates and the level of the respective price increase.

“The retailers expected that the brewery would ensure that the price increase was simultaneously implemented by competing retailers. The ones suffering from such systematic price maintenance practices are the end consumers.”

German-owned Metro, one of three supermarket groups fined for the beer price-fixing, said the “irregularities” had taken place at one of its procurement arms which has since been closed.

“We expressly regret these irregularities which date back quite some time,” it said a spokesman. “Such behaviour is not in line with the way we want to understand and operate our business,”

Metro added that the failings were “eliminated long before the beginning of the investigations”.

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