Beer market of Russia 2016: PET goes to draftThe beer market of Russia was warmed up by the hot summer, but the preparation for large volume PET prohibition has already impacted it negatively. The year was successful for Efes, MBC and regional producers; Carlsberg’s positions were virtually stable but AB InBev and Heineken lost a part of market share having focused on the sales profitability. The dynamics of big brands was determined by how much the companies were willing to keep the prices down or by their promotional activity. In this context the economy segment of the beer market and sales of inexpensive draft beer were increasing. The premium segment started shrinking due to license brands migrating to the mainstream segment.
Beer market of Vietnam: “Young tiger”Vietnam is one of the few big beer markets that continue to grow steadily. The beer popularity results from its low price, street consumption culture, and social motives. The outlooks of beer market as well as the Vietnamese economy inspire optimism, though the country is heavily dependent on export of goods. The state regulation can be called liberal, but the key risk for brewers is harbored in intensive rising of excise. Within TOP-4 there are two leaders, Sabeco and Heineken that grow at the fastest rates. The first company effectively employs its capacities, the second one focuses on marketing technologies. Almost 80% of the market belongs to century-old brands, yet the middle class and the youth are shifting their interest toward international premium that is growing taking share from the mainstream.
Analysis of beer market in China (on Russian)
Beer market of Ukraine: big three losing weightIn 2016, fast increase of excises and resulting price spike stood in the way of the beer market stabilization. Most of competition (as well as mass sorts) moved to the economy segment of the market. The biggest losses were incurred by the leading three, especially Obolon, which again experienced pressure after reallocation of Efes market share. However, one should already speak of TOP-4. Group Oasis CIS (PPB) became a strong player and competitor to transnational companies. Besides the net sales of many regional medium breweries look rather good and 16-fold cost reduction wholesale trade license for craft brewers opens up a possibility of rapid growth in 2017.
General Court annuls the €31.66 million fine imposed on Grolsch
On that market the brewers sell their beer to end users mainly through two distribution channels: the “on-trade” segment (hotels, restaurants and caf?s), where consumption is on the premises, and the “off-trade” segment (supermarkets and off-licences), where the beer is purchased for consumption at home.
The infringement found by the Commission consisted of the coordination of prices and price increases for beer and the allocation of customers, both in the on-trade segment and in the off- trade segment in the Netherlands, and the occasional coordination of other commercial conditions offered to individual on-trade customers in the Netherlands.
The Commission imposed a fine of €31.66 million on Koninklijke Grolsch NV.
That company subsequently brought an action before the General Court seeking annulment of the Commission’s decision or a reduction in its fine.
Koninklijke Grolsch NV in essence denied that it participated directly in the infringement. It argued that the employees of its wholly-owned subsidiary, Grolsche Bierbrouwerij Nederland BV, attended most of the meetings at issue and that consequently the Commission should not have found that Koninklijke Grolsch NV participated in the infringement but, if appropriate, should instead have attributed liability to it for an infringement committed by its subsidiary.
First of all, the Court considers certain documents concerning the meetings between the companies and concludes that the evidence available to the Commission was not sufficient to establish the direct participation of Koninklijke Grolsch in the cartel.
The Court goes on to observe that where, as in the present case, a decision concerns a number of addressees and raises a problem of attribution of liability for the infringement identified, it must include an adequate statement of reasons with respect to each of the addressees, in particular those of them who, according to the decision, must bear the liability for that infringement. Thus, in the case of a parent company held liable for the conduct of its subsidiary, such a decision must contain a detailed statement of reasons for attributing the infringement to that company.
According to settled case-law, in the specific case of a parent company holding 100% of the capital of a subsidiary which has committed an infringement of the competition rules, there is a rebuttable presumption that that parent company actually exercises decisive influence over the conduct of its subsidiary.
In those circumstances, it is sufficient for the Commission to show that the entire capital of a subsidiary is held by the parent company in order to presume that the parent company exercises decisive influence over the subsidiary’s commercial policy. The Commission will then be able to hold the parent company jointly and severally liable for payment of the fine imposed on the subsidiary, unless the parent company, which has the burden of rebutting that presumption, adduces sufficient evidence to prove that its subsidiary acts autonomously on the market.
The Court states that, in the present case, the decision treated the parent company, Koninklijke Grolsch NV, and the Grolsch group as one and made no mention of the economic, organisational and legal links between the parent company and its subsidiary, whilst nowhere in the statement of reasons was the subsidiary’s name mentioned. The Commission therefore failed to explain the reasons which led it to determine the legal person responsible for running the undertaking at the time when the infringement was committed, so as to enable that person to answer for the infringement or, as the case may be, rebut the presumption that the parent company actually exercised decisive influence over the conduct of its subsidiary.
The Court finds that the Commission failed to explain, in the decision, its reasons for attributing to Koninklijke Grolsch NV the conduct of its subsidiary, which followed from the participation of the subsidiary’s employees in the meetings at issue. It thus denied the parent company any opportunity to reverse the presumption and thereby challenge the merits of that attribution before the Court and did not enable the Court to exercise its power of review in that regard.
Consequently, the Court decides to annul the Commission’s decision in so far as it concerns Koninklijke Grolsch NV.
20 Sep. 2011