India's antitrust watchdog today imposed a penalty of Rs 750 crore on Heineken-controlled beer giant United Breweries and Rs 120 crore on Carlsberg India in a case related to cartelisation of beer prices in the country.
The order comes after a long-drawn investigation that in 2018 saw Competition Commission of India (CCI) raiding the offices of the brewers.
The raids happened after rival Anheuser Busch InBev told the watchdog it had detected an industry cartel in India after it acquired operations of SABMiller Plc. A detailed CCI investigation, reported by Reuters last year, found that the companies collectively strategised in seeking price increases in several states, forging a cartel the CCI investigation unit said gave them more bargaining power with state authorities.
In a final order published Friday, the CCI announced penalties of Rs 750 crore on United Breweries and Rs 120 crore on Carlsberg, after the amounts were lowered as the companies cooperated with the investigators.
AB InBev was given a 100% exemption from penalties in the case as it alerted the CCI about the cartel, the order added. The CCI "directs the parties to cease and desist in future from indulging" in such activities, said the watchdog's 231-page order, which also imposed penalties on several company executives that it said were involved in price fixing at the time.
Carlsberg in a statement said it was reviewing the CCI order. United Breweries, Heineken and AB InBev did not immediately respond.
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