The Czech anti-trust body UOHS decided to lower the fine imposed on retailers Billa and Julius Meinl from CZK 51 million to CZK 43.35 million, UOHS chairman Martin Pecina said.

The fine was imposed because of a cartel formed in 2001-2003.

The two companies violated the law by agreeing on the same purchase policy and forced suppliers to offer them the same conditions.

Moreover, the two chains harmonised the assortment they offered and threatened that unless distributors provide the same services to both companies, they will lose their contracts.

At that time, Meinl operated 90 supermarkets in the country but already sold its business and only kept an office in Prague. Billa ran some 70 outlets in this period.

The regional court in Brno decided that the UOHS is right to impose sanctions on the retailers but ruled the fine was to be reassessed.