Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Coca-Cola settlement in EU

The Wall Street Journal, the LA Times, and the Washington Post each reported today on EU Commissioner Mario Monti's announcement of a settlement with Coca-Cola, putting an end to the five year investigation into the company's marketing practices in the European Union. The Washington Post desribed the terms of the settlement as follows:

"Under the five-year deal, Coca-Cola will scrap all rebates that require retailers to buy the same amount of its products or more each time. It also will no longer require that a customer who wants to buy best-selling regular Coke or Fanta Orange also take less-popular brands, or offer rebates if they do or reserve shelf space for them.

"It will also allow rivals to occupy 20 percent of the space inside its coolers, if its coolers are the only ones in the store."

Rumors of a settlement have been reported over the past six months or so. It will be interesting to see how the settlement will be enforced, especially after Mr. Monti leaves his post at the end of the month. Those who travel in the EU may have noticed the ubiquity of Coke products. Pepsi, which initially brought the complaint to the commission in 1999, is reported to have only about 10 % of the market.

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First thing first, hello, and congratulations on your Antitrust blog! As a French/European antitrust lawyer, I greatly appreciate having a feel of what's happening in the US.

Regarding the Coca Coal issue, their earlier settlement (in 1995 or so) with the EU was a lot lighter:
- no target rebate,
- specific provisions on coolers (either 100% KO if owned by KO, or mixed if owned by the retailer)

Indeed, enforcement will be the though part, even more so now as the member states are in charge of the application of articles 81 and 82 of the EC treaty. It will give room to differences in all 25 member states.

On a more personal note, I've been working for 4 years, but I have always dreamed of coming to the US to study (LLM in antitrust) and eventualy enter a US law firm to practice both US and EU/French antitrust in the US. Do you think it's something feasible? Under what conditions?

I'll check back regularly. Keep it up!

Posted by: Burps... | Oct 21, 2004 3:06:58 AM

By the way, if you're interested, there is the URL to the Commission's website and the case at hand:

Posted by: | Oct 21, 2004 10:06:43 AM

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