The Carlsberg brewery has been fined 50 million euros by the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court for its participation in the beer cartel. The 6th Cartel Senate found it proven on Tuesday that the Hamburg-based Carlsberg Deutschland Holding GmbH was guilty of an antitrust violation when a former managing director took part in an exchange of price-sensitive information between leading German breweries in 2007.
The conversation was "part of the reason" for the price increase of one euro per box carried out shortly afterwards by Carlsberg and other breweries, said the presiding judge Ulrich Egger. Although it does not constitute illegal price fixing, it does constitute intentional antitrust violations in the form of coordinated behavior.
The verdict was preceded by an agreement between the parties involved in the process, which provided for a fine of 45 to 55 million euros. In her closing speech, Carlsberg's lawyer, Anika Schürmann, once again expressly rejected the allegations against the company and justified the agreement with the fact that the company finally wanted to draw a line under the onerous mammoth proceedings.
In 2014, the Federal Cartel Office imposed fines totaling more than 330 million euros on numerous well-known breweries such as Krombacher, Bitburger, Warsteiner, Veltins and Carlsberg for illegal price fixing. At that time, the competition authority demanded 62 million euros from Carlsberg. However, unlike most other breweries, Carlsberg did not accept this and lodged a complaint with the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court. It then took five years for the legal investigation of what had happened.