NMa Approves Heineken's New Beer Contracts
NMa has determined that the four new standard agreements which Heineken enters into with cafes and other businesses in the hospitality sector are not in conflict with the prohibition on cartels. These agreements, also referred to here as the beer contracts, provide for financial support by Heineken for the cafes if they sell tap beer exclusively from Heineken. NMa has determined that there are no grounds for objecting to the new contracts, despite Heineken's large market share.
An important consideration in this regard is the fact that the cafes may terminate the contract at any moment they wish, if they wish to switch to the brand of a competitor who makes a better offer. On the grounds of a European block exemption, beer brewers with a market share smaller than that of Heineken, are permitted to enter into contracts for a longer period (subject to a maximum of five years) with businesses in the hospitality sector. The position of these smaller brewers in relation to the larger Heineken is affected by this in a positive sense.
At the request of NMa, Heineken removed the exclusivity clauses in relation to the sale of bottled beer and special beers from the contracts. The former beer contracts stipulated that cafes were bound to Heineken for many years with regard to the sale of all beers.
The new beer contracts do not affect the financial security which Heineken grants cafes. Heineken is not permitted to terminate the contracts, except if cafes do not fulfil their obligations. Horeca Nederland, the Dutch association representing cafes, has impressed the importance of this on NMa.