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German brewers fined

Bottles of breweries Krombacher, Warsteiner, Veltins and Bitburger
Germany's competition watchdog has fined five brewers a total of $A163 million for price-fixing.
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Germany’s competition watchdog says it has fined five brewers a total of 106.5 million euros ($A163 million) for price-fixing.

The beer makers involved were Bitburger, Krombacher, Veltins, Warsteiner and the private brewery Barre, said the Bundeskartellamt competition authority.

The body’s president Andreas Mundt said the five brewers, and seven of their managers, had illegally agreed prices for bottled and draft beer between 2006 and 2008, mostly in personal and phone conversations.

They had agreed to raise the price of draft beer by between five and seven euros per 100 litres, and the price of a crate of 20 beer bottles by about one euro.

An investigation was continuing against two other major and four regional brewers in North Rhine-Westphalia state.

The probe was sparked by a complaint by Anheuser-Busch InBev, which markets Beck’s beer, and which escaped a fine because of it had approached the watchdog, a statement by the authority said.