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House takes over beer wars

NAIROBI, Kenya April 14 – Top executives of Keroche Breweries Limited are due to appear before a parliamentary committee on Wednesday, to state their case after making claims of unfair trade practices by the rival East African Breweries Limited (EABL).

The Managing Director Tabitha Karanja has been invited to appear before the parliamentary committee on Finance, Planning and Trade in a letter from the office of the Clerk of the National Assembly.

"The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 15th April 2009 at 2.30pm in Committee Room No. 7 main Parliament building," the letter dated April 8 and signed by Owino Omolo on behalf of the clerk says.

The meeting has been called after Keroche wrote to several parliamentary committees on March 25 complaining about alleged unfair and unethical trade practices by EABL.

In that letter, Keroche had wanted the Public Investments Committee, Public Accounts Committee, the committee on trade and that of legal affairs to investigate the alleged claims.

Among issues that Mrs Karanja wants probed is the alleged defacing of her company\’s billboards and posters.

Keroche alleged that EABL had instructed bar owners not to stock the Summit brand of beer and that its agents had been ordered to remove Keroche\’s advertising material.

The Naivasha-based Keroche Breweries launched Summit beer late last year giving fresh competition to EABL.

There has been previous correspondence between the two rival brewers over the allegations where EABL has denied any wrongdoing.

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In the exchange, EABL asked Keroche to provide specific information together with documentary evidence to support the allegations.

EABL has insisted its operations are grounded on professional business ethics and observes high ethical standards, particularly within a competitive business environment.

Keroche started operations in 1997 as a wine maker and recently invested Sh1 billion in a modern brewing plant. 

The plant employs 260 workers.

The Summit Lager brand was launched in October last year by Prime Minister Raila Odinga whose office has been copied in the correspondence from Keroche Breweries Limited to Parliament.

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