MEXICO CITY Nov 9 Mexico's anti-trust watchdog
said on Monday it launched a new investigation into alleged
monopoly practices in the nation's soft-drink market, one of
the world's biggest.
The Federal Competition Commission, or Cofeco, is
investigating charges that major players were offering perks to
merchants on conditions they only sold their soft-drink
products, among other allegations, according to a notice
published in the government's daily gazette.
Large Mexican companies have been largely successful in
using legal injunctions to avoid most charges of monopolistic
But in 2008, Mexico's Supreme Court upheld fines that had
been handed out by Cofeco, totaling almost $15 million, against
15 Coca-Cola bottlers and distributors in Mexico on charges
similar to the new investigation.
Among the companies then fined was Coca-Cola FEMSA (KOF.N)
(KOFL.MX), controlled by giant drinks companies FEMSA
(FMSAUBD.MX) (FMX.N) and Coca-Cola Co (KO.N). FEMSA is Mexico's
largest soft-drinks bottler and the second-biggest in the world
"Given the investigation is in its initial phase, we do not
know against whom it is directed or who are the plaintiffs," a
Coca-Cola FEMSA executive said in an e-mailed statement to
Reuters, on condition of anonymity.
The investigation of the soft-drink market comes on top of
a probe began earlier this year into similar practices. A
Cofeco spokesman said the cases were separate and likely
involved different companies but declined to name names.
Legal restrictions prevent Cofeco from disclosing details
about what companies are involved in active investigations.
Consumers in Mexico drink more Coca-Cola products per
capita than any other nation in the world, about 40 gallons
(150 liters) of carbonated drinks per person a year, according
to producers, making the country a key battleground for
(Reporting by Veronica Sparrowe and Michael O'Boyle)