EU opens probe of global beer giant AB InBev

BRUSSELS – The European Union opened an investigation Thursday into global beer giant AB InBev to determine if it has abused its dominant position in Belgium by hindering cheaper imports of its products from neighbouring countries.

EU officials said there are suspicions the company, based in Leuven, Belgium, may be pursuing a deliberate strategy to block imports of its beer from less expensive countries, including France and the Netherlands, to the pricier Belgian market.

“AB InBev’s strong position on the Belgian beer market is not a problem,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said as she announced the probe. However, she said, “keeping out cheaper imports of its beer from neighbouring countries would be both against the interests of consumers and anti-competitive.”

AB InBev spokesperson Korneel Warlop said the brewer “is fully co-operating with the European Commission.”

“It would not be appropriate for us to comment on the substance or potential consequences of the ongoing investigation,” Warlop said in an email to The Associated Press.