Greece’s state competition watchdog on Tuesday imposed a 31.5-million-euro ($33.5-million) fine on the country's main beer distributor Athenian Brewery, a Heineken subsidiary, over unfair market practices.
The watchdog said Athenian Brewery had a “long-running” and “targeted” policy to squeeze out competitors by imposing exclusivity clauses on retailers in return for credit facilitation or price incentives.
The company immediately branded the ruling “unfair” and pledged to contest it in court.
“Athenian Brewery categorically denies the commission's claims, it considers the decision unfair and baseless and states that it will immediately seek recourse to justice,” it said in a statement.
Athenian Brewery added that though the competition commission's investigation lasted 15 years, it failed to take into account that the Greek beer market had expanded from five players in 2000 to over 25 in 2014.
“(Our company's) market share fell from 73 percent in 2000 to around 50 percent today. These facts prove in the clearest manner that the Greek beer market is free and open to competition,” it said.
One of Athenian Brewery's main competitors, Macedonian Thrace Brewery in northern Greece, last month noted the Greek market was still dominated by Amsterdam-based Heineken and Danish brewer Carlsberg “to the detriment of locally owned breweries, new entrants and ultimately the Greek consumer.”