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Beer

Anheuser-Busch InBev under EU investigation for potential antitrust violations

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 (AP File Photo)

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 neighboring 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 neighboring countries would be both against the interests of consumers and anti-competitive."

AB InBev spokesperson Korneel Warlop said the brewer "is fully cooperating with the European Commission."

In an e-mail to the Associated Press, Warlop said, "It would not be appropriate for us to comment on the substance or potential consequences of the ongoing investigation." 

If the EU investigation finds the beer giant guilty of wrong-doing, it could fine the company as much as 10 percent of its global revenue-- well over $43 billion.