Hungary: Competition Authority fines Heineken for breaching new trading rules

The Hungarian Competition Authority has fined Heineken Hungária Sörgyárak Zrt. (Heineken Hungary Breweries Zrt.) HUF 15 million (EUR 39,100) for narrowing its beer range and ordered it to establish a compliance program, reports Magyar Nemzet.

Heineken Hungaria fined
© E-Malt
Source:  E-Malt News

The organization’s investigation revealed that Heineken, despite the legal prohibition, had established an almost exclusive supplier cooperation with a restaurant in the capital. The Dutch-owned beer company thus encouraged the restaurant to source almost all its beer from Heineken.

By doing so, the companies have breached the new trading rules by limiting consumer choice and preventing other beer producers from competing, it was ruled.

The Authority’s Competition Council took into account that Heineken is a repeat offender in view of a previous failure to act and that the conduct under investigation was specifically aimed at circumventing the regulation, which was intended to facilitate the entry of smaller players.

In light of these considerations, Heineken Hungária Sörgyárak Zrt. was fined HUF 15 million on the basis of the turnover of the only restaurant investigated, and the Competition Council prohibited the continuation of the infringing conduct.

The Hungarian Competition Authority also ordered the brewer to set up an internal compliance program to ensure that its business conditions do not encourage pubs to exceed the legal thresholds.

In view of its minor role in the infringement, Woda Bt., the operator of the restaurant involved in the case, was given a warning instead of a fine. Furthermore, the small Budapest-based company was ordered to establish an internal procedure to ensure compliance with competition law and to prevent infringements.

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