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The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has found three beer companies – United Breweries Limited (UBL), Anheuser Busch InBev India Ltd. and Carlsberg India Private Limited (‘CIPL’) – to be indulging in cartelisation of beer prices in the country and imposed huge penalties.

As per the statement, the antitrust body has directed UBL and CIPL to pay penalties to the tune of 750 crores and 120 crores respectively, besides passing a cease-and-desist order. However, AB InBev has been given 100% benefit of reduction in penalty under the provisions of Section 46 of the Competition Act, 2002. 

Further, the CCI found that the price-fixing was done through the platform of the All India Brewers’ Association (AIBA) and held it to be in contravention of the provisions of the act. 

It said that the cartel was active from 2009 to at least 10.10.2018, when the CCI raided the offices of the brewers and started an inquiry. The CIPL had joined it in from 2012 and AIBA was facilitating the activity since 2013.

“Based on the evidence of regular communications between the parties collected by the Director-General during search and seizure, and on the basis of the disclosures made in the lesser penalty applications, CCI found that the three companies engaged in price co-ordination in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Delhi and Puducherry," it said. 

In addition to this, the companies were restricting the supply of beer in Maharashtra, Odisha and West Bengal; sharing the market in Maharashtra; and co-ordinating with respect to the supply of beer to premium institutions in the city of Bengaluru.

CCI also found coordination amongst UBL and AB InBev with respect to purchasing second-hand bottles.

As many as four individuals of UBL, four individuals of AB InBev, six individuals of CIPL and the DG of AIBA, were held by CCI to be liable for the anti-competitive conduct of their respective companies/association.

 

 

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