Exclusive: EU antitrust regulators aim to fine AB Inbev in Belgian beer case - sources

A waiter serves a glass of beer ahead of an Anheuser-Busch InBev shareholders meeting in Brussels, Belgium April 30, 2014. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File photo

Thomson Reuters

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators aim to fine Anheuser-Busch InBev for preventing cheaper beer imports into Belgium despite the beer giant's attempts to settle the EU case, people familiar with the matter said.

Last year, the European Commission accused the world's largest brewer of abusing its market dominance in Belgium by impeding cheaper imports into the country of its Jupiler and Leffe brands from neighboring France and the Netherlands.

It said this resulted in Belgian consumers paying more for these two brands, the most popular in Belgium. AB Inbev sells Jupiler and Leffe at lower prices in the Netherlands and France because of the greater competition in these two markets.

EU antitrust rules allow companies to settle investigations by offering concessions and regulators to close the case without levying any fine or proving wrongdoing. The Commission normally offers this option only if it sees it as a quicker way to restore competition to the market.

The Commission declined to comment. The sources say a formal decision will take some time before it is announced.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by Robin Emmott)

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