Sunday, February 17, 2019


MTB welcomes latest legal defeat for Heineken, subsidiary AB in Greece
Monday, 12 March, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Macedonian Thrace Brewery (MTB) has welcomed the latest legal success in its long-running battle with Heineken and its 98.8 per cent-owned Greek operating subsidiary, Athenian Brewery (AB), for anti-competitive market abuses in Greece.

This was the decision by the Greek public prosecutor to dismiss as fundamentally unfounded the allegations of perjury made by AB against MTB and a distributor who had testified against Heineken in Greece before the competition regulator, the Hellenic Competition Commission (HCC). The prosecutor concluded that the complaint by Heineken’s subsidiary was totally false and had been filed with malicious intent.

The unsuccessful complaint by AB was filed shortly after MTB had given its support to the public prosecutor’s criminal action in Greece against two senior Heineken executives at AB, who were charged with competition law infringements and are due to face trial this month after several postponements. The trial was originally scheduled for July 2016.

These criminal charges were brought following a 12-year-long investigation by HCC, which, in 2015, ruled that for nearly two decades, AB had systematically abused its dominant market position in violation of Greek and EU competition law.

In July 2017, an appeal by AB against HCC’s findings was dismissed by the Athens Administrative Appeals Court, confirming a record 26.7 million Euro fine on Heineken’s Greek subsidiary.

The court endorsed a large body of evidence that AB, which sells Alfa, Amstel and Heineken in Greece, implemented a targeted policy to exclude competitors from wholesalers, as well as on-trade (for instance, the HoReCa sector, which comprises hotels, bars and restaurants) and off-trade retail outlets.

Following on from the decision in Greece, MTB launched a damages claim worth over 100 million Euro against Heineken and AB in the Court of Amsterdam, commercial division, in February 2017. The court will hear summary legal arguments on March 22, 2018.

Demetri Politopoulos, one of MTB’s founders, said, “Heineken would have you believe it is a responsible global brewer that is committed to integrity and fairness. The real Heineken experience for MTB and Greek consumers has been one of a sustained attack on fair competition, delivered via Athenian Brewery.”

“HCC proved that AB manipulated this market, restricting competition and limiting consumer choice. Through vexatious legal actions, AB has subsequently tried to bully and stifle our right to legal recourse with multiple lawsuits and appeals. All have failed. It is now time for AB and Heineken, which has the ultimate responsibility for its operating business, to hold its hands up, apologise and pay the price for this sustained market abuse,” he added.
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