Monday 13 May 2019 2:06 pm

Tough to swallow: Brewing giant AB InBev slapped with €200m fine over import restrictions

The world’s largest brewer has been slapped with a €200m (£172m) antitrust fine from the EU today for restricting cross-border sales of beer.

AB InBev was handed the penalty by the European Commission, which said the firm abused its dominant position on the Belgian beer market by hindering cheaper imports of its Jupiler beer from the Netherlands into Belgium.

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Margrethe Vestager, EU competition commissioner, said: "Consumers in Belgium have been paying more for their favourite beer because of AB InBev’s deliberate strategy to restrict cross-border sales between the Netherlands and Belgium. Attempts by dominant companies to carve up the single market to maintain high prices are illegal."

AB InBev's fine was cut by 15 per cent as it co-operated with the EU's three-year investigation.

The group has also pledged to provide mandatory food information in both French and Dutch on the packaging of its products as a result of the probe.

The infringement, which lasted from early 2009 to late 2016, consisted of the group restricting the possibility for supermarkets and wholesalers to buy Jupiler beer at lower prices in the Netherlands and to import it into Belgium, according to the commission.

Based in Leuven, Belgium, AB InBev made a $230m (£176m) provision for the fine in its 2018 results.

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Jupiler represents roughly 40 per cent of the total Belgian beer market in terms of sales volume, making it AB InBev’s most popular beer brand in Belgium.