Coca-Cola fined $1.9 million in anti-monopoly suit
Dec. 10, 1996
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ Regulators Tuesday fined Coca-Cola Co. and Cisneros Group, the bottler that defected from PepsiCo Inc., about $1.9 million, but let Coke keep its contract with the bottler.
The federal antitrust agency Pro-Competencia levied the fine after PepsiCo claimed its partner of 57 years broke the law last August when it switched overnight to archrival Coke.
Pro-Competencia ruled that Coca-Cola's new joint venture was legal, and could continue bottling and distributing Coke. The fines were imposed because of the company's monopolization of other sodas.
Both sides have 45 days to appeal the decision.
The fine was issued against Coca-Cola Hit de Venezuela, a joint venture formed in August between Coke and the Cisneros Group. The defection turned Pepsi from controlling 80 percent of the cola market to no production capabilities in the country.
Pepsi has since resumed production and expects to regain much of its market share in Caracas within six months.
Venezuela was one of the few countries in the world where Pepsi dominated Coke.
Pepsi contended the Cisneros-Coke alliance violated anti-monopoly laws since no other companies were producing cola, and asked Pro-Competencia to dissolve it.
The agency rejected that request. But it did order the company to halt bottling and distributing multiple brands of various flavored sodas. Coca-Cola Hit must choose one brand for each flavor, and offer the licenses for the other brands to other companies, the board said.