Carlsberg investigated by German cartel office

COPENHAGEN, March 26 Tue Mar 26, 2013 10:16am GMT

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COPENHAGEN, March 26 (Reuters) - Carlsberg confirmed on Tuesday that it was under investigation by the German Federal Cartel Office after a magazine said the Danish brewer was suspected of price fixing.

German weekly magazine Focus reported that Carlsberg, rival Anheuser Bush Inbev SA and some local competitors could face fines totalling hundreds of millions of euros.

The magazine said the companies under investigation control nearly half of Germany's beer market and that they were alleged to have artificially inflated the price of about 24 brands of beer including Beck's, Holsten, Jever and Warsteiner.

Carlsberg confirmed it was being investigated by the German cartel office but declined to say more.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Cartel Office said an investigation of brewers had been going on since September 2011, but declined to name the companies involved.

"We cannot say anything on timing but we want to complete the investigation as quickly as possible," she said.

According to Focus, the companies being investigated include Anheuser Busch InBev, Carlsberg, German retailer Oetker and German brewers Warsteiner, Krombacher, Erdinger and Bitburger.

Warsteiner and Bitburger confirmed they were under investigation but declined further comment.

Anheuser Bush Inbev and Oetker also declined to comment, while representatives of Krombacher and Erdinger were not immediately available. (Reporting by Mette Fraende in Copenhagen, Maria Sheahan and Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt, and Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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