FMCG giant Unilever has been fined a total of €27 million by Greece’s competition authority for engaging in “anti-competitive vertical practices”.
The Hellenic Competition Commission (HCC) found that Unilever’s Greek business, Elais-Unilever Hellas, “adopted and implemented abusive practices” to strengthen and maintain its dominant position in the margarine market. By doing this the consumer goods giant excluded competitors and limited their growth possibilities.
The alleged abusive conduct included target rebates and the imposition of unfair trading conditions by banning the promotion of competitive brands from June 2002 to October 2008.
The decision focused on the contract clauses between Unilever and its wholesalers imposing resale price maintenance, restriction of active and passive sales and non compete obligation clause from 1996 to 2017.
The HCC imposed fines totalling around €27 million for the violations and threatened the company with a fine of €10,000 for each day of delay in complying with the HCC decision from the day of publication.
Commenting on the decision, Elais-Unilever Hellas told Inside FMCG:
“Upon the ex officio investigation of the Hellenic Competition Commission in the margarines’ market and its respective no. 663/2018 decision, ELAIS-Unilever Hellas S.A. states that [it] respectfully disagrees and is going to review the rationale of the afore mentioned decision examining the grounds to appeal to the Administrative Court of Appeal.”
The decision comes at a time when the European Commission is exploring the idea of introducing regulations for trade relationships in the food supply chain.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that the global giant plans to engage more with its shareholders following investors’ opposition to the group’s pay policy. The company has faced two investor revolts this year, indicating that the company wasn’t listening to the concerns of its shareholders.