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Document 52019AT40134(01)

Final Report of the Hearing OfficerPursuant to Article 16 of Decision 2011/695/EU of the President of the European Commission of 13 October 2011 on the function and terms of reference of the hearing officer in certain competition proceedings (OJ L 275, 20.10.2011, p. 29) (Decision 2011/695/EU). Case AT.40134 — AB Inbev beer trade restrictions2019/C 407/05

C/2019/3465

OJ C 407, 3.12.2019, p. 5–5 (BG, ES, CS, DA, DE, ET, EL, EN, FR, HR, IT, LV, LT, HU, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SK, SL, FI, SV)

3.12.2019   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 407/5


Final Report of the Hearing Officer (1)

Case AT.40134 — AB Inbev beer trade restrictions

(2019/C 407/05)

(1)   

The draft decision, which is addressed to Anheuser-Busch InBev NV/SA, InBev Belgium BVBA/SPRL and InBev Nederland NV (together, ‘AB InBev’) finds that AB InBev committed a single and continuous infringement of Article 102 TFEU, during the period from 9 February 2009 until 31 October 2016, through several practices restricting imports from the Netherlands of certain of its beer products into Belgium, with the overall aim to maintain higher prices and profits in Belgium.

(2)   

Following unannounced inspections in 2015 at the premises of a retailer in the Netherlands and at the premises of AB InBev in the Netherlands and in Belgium, On 29 June 2016, the Commission initiated proceedings pursuant to Article 11(6) of Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 (2) and Article 2(1) of Regulation (EC) No 773/2004 (3) against AB InBev.

(3)   

On 30 November 2017, the Commission adopted a statement of objections (‘the SO’).

(4)   

In […] (4), following several rounds of exchanges between AB InBev and DG Competition, AB InBev submitted a formal offer to cooperate in view of the adoption of a decision pursuant to Articles 7 and 23 of Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 (‘Settlement Submission’). The Settlement Submission contained in particular:

an acknowledgement in clear and unequivocal terms of AB InBev’s joint and several liability for the infringement;

an indication of the maximum amount of the fine AB InBev would accept in the context of a cooperation procedure;

the confirmation that AB InBev had been sufficiently heard on the Commission’s objections through the SO and on the basis of a full access to the Commission's file;

a remedy proposal ensuring that AB InBev will include mandatory food information in Dutch and French on the packaging of its beer products sold by InBev Belgium, AB InBev France and InBev Nederland (hereafter ‘the Remedy’);

an acknowledgment that the Remedy is suitable and proportionate to ensure that the specific practice as referred to in the SO remains fully terminated and that it considers that parallel trade across the Netherlands, Belgium and France will be enhanced.

(5)   

In the draft decision, the Commission considers that, in view of the effective cooperation provided by AB InBev, as set out above, the amount of the fine should be reduced by 15 %.

(6)   

In accordance with Article 16 of Decision 2011/695/EU, I have examined whether the draft decision deals only with objections in respect of which AB InBev has been afforded the opportunity of making known its views. I conclude that it does.

(7)   

I have not received any complaint from AB InBev or any third party in relation to procedural aspects. Overall, I consider that the effective exercise of procedural rights has been respected in this case.

Brussels, 6 May 2019.

Joos STRAGIER


(1)  Pursuant to Article 16 of Decision 2011/695/EU of the President of the European Commission of 13 October 2011 on the function and terms of reference of the hearing officer in certain competition proceedings (OJ L 275, 20.10.2011, p. 29) (‘Decision 2011/695/EU’).

(2)  Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 of 16 December 2002 on the implementation of the rules on competition laid down in Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty (OJ L 1, 4.1.2003, p. 1) (‘Regulation (EC) No 1/2003’).

(3)  Commission Regulation (EC) No 773/2004 of 7 April 2004 relating to the conduct of proceedings by the Commission pursuant to Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty (OJ L 123, 27.4.2004, p. 18).

(4)  Parts of this text have been edited to ensure that confidential information is not disclosed. Those parts are replaced by a non-confidential summary in square brackets or are shown as […].


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