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Carlsberg to pay €50 million fine in price-fixing case

Danish brewer Carlsberg has agreed to pay a hefty fine to draw a line under an 11-year -long dispute, but continues to refute the allegations made against it.

Carlsberg has settled a legal case that has persisted for 11 years in order to focus on its core business, the brewing company has said.

The legal case brought against Carlsberg was part of a wider complaint lodged by the German Federal Cartel Office, which saw fines totalling €338 million imposed on several breweries, industry associations and senior managers in 2014 for colluding to fix prices between 2006 and 2008.

A number of German breweries settled with the Cartel Office and paid their fines at the time. However, Carlsberg “vehemently objected” to its own €62 million fine and its case went to court in 2018.

“We confirm that Carlsberg Deutschland Holding GmbH has reached a settlement in this case, which has been ongoing for 11 years and required an enormous amount of time and financial resources,” Carlsberg’s head of communications, Tanja Frederiksen, said in a statement.

“We still strongly disagree with the charges and maintain our innocence, but we have taken this decision in order to be able to fully focus again on the future of Carlsberg Deutschland Holding GmbH,” Frederiksen said.

The case was concluded at the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court.

According to the Cartel Office, the German arm of AB InBev also took part in price fixing, but was spared a fine because of the information it provided.

Speaking in 2014 when the original fines were handed out, Andreas Mundt, president of the Bundeskartellamt said: “The beer manufacturers concerned account for more than half of the beer sold in Germany. The industry’s annual turnover amounts to well over seven billion Euros. In view of these figures the high fines are appropriate and necessary to effectively punish the perpetrators.”

Under the German Act against Restraints of Competition, the maximum fine is limited to 10% of a company’s total turnover.

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