Anheuser-Busch InBev is a big company. Sometimes big companies think they can play a little loosey-goosey with the law (or hell, maybe that’s everyone) or extend regulatory boundaries to accommodate them. And they are usually right. Money and power can be good for that. But occasionally, those big companies come under scrutiny for such seemingly unethical practices. Today’s accusation comes from the EU, which is looking into AB InBev for antitrust practices that may be preventing less expensive Dutch and French beer from being sold into the company’s home base of Belgium. From Bloomberg:
The European Commission will probe whether changing beer packaging or limiting rebates for non-Belgian retailers hinders imports to Belgium, according to an emailed statement. The EU regulator’s “preliminary view is that AB InBev may be pursuing a deliberate strategy to restrict so-called parallel trade of its beer.”
The commission last month approved AB InBev’s $104 billion bid to buy beer rival SABMiller Plc after the companies agreed to sell almost all of SABMiller’s business in Europe to allay concerns it could control the region’s beer market. Today’s antitrust probe could pave the way to fines or an order to change business practices.
Apparently, AB InBev has 53 percent share of Belgium’s beer market, and this is not the first time the company has been under scrutiny for less-than-legal practices over in Europe. Back to Bloomberg:
The brewer of Budweiser … was previously probed by the EU for colluding to fix prices in the Netherlands. It escaped fines in 2007 because it was the first to tell the commission about the cartel.
EU regulators separately ordered Belgium to claim back tax from the company earlier this year after ruling illegal a tax break offered to multinationals operating in the country.