Greek brewery Macedonian Thrace on Friday announced it had filed suit against Heineken NV and its 98.8%-owned Greek operating company, Athenian Brewery, in the Court of Amsterdam’s commercial division. The suit alleges two decades of anti-competitive market abuse, according to a release from Macedonian Thrace. Macedonian Thrace represents approximately six percent of the Greek beer market, led by flagship Vergina beer.
The suit seeks damages in excess of 100 million Euro and follows a report issued by Greece’s Hellenic Competition Commission (HCC) in 2015. The report followed a 12-year investigation, which found that Athenian Brewery had from 1998-2014: “adopted and implemented a single and targeted policy that sought to exclude its competitors from all segments of the market–on-trade (hotels, bars and restaurants) as well as off-trade retail outlets, and to limit their growth possibilities…” As a result, the HCC fined Athenian Brewery €31,451,211.
In the release, Macedonian Thrace’s founder and CEO Demetri Politopoulos describes Athenian Brewery’s actions thusly: “Greek authorities revealed the full extent and intensity of the illegal anti-competitive abuse of Heineken through its Greek operating company. For decades Heineken has been acting like a giant bully who’ll stop at nothing to get its way. It has been illegally distorting the Greek beer market while protecting the supremacy it wields, by coercing and intimidating distributors, retailers and wholesalers, and ultimately ripping off consumers.”
We have reached out to Heineken NV for comment and will update this post with its response.