Department of Justice Clears ABI-SAB Merger

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it has agreed to a settlement with Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) that will permit ABI to proceed with its acquisition of SABMiller. According to DOJ, the settlement requires ABI to divest SABMiller’s entire U.S. business – including SABMiller’s ownership interest in MillerCoors, the right to brew and sell certain SABMiller beers in the United States and the worldwide Miller beer brand rights, thereby preventing any increase in concentration in the U.S. beer industry. The settlement also prohibits ABI from instituting or continuing practices and programs that limit the ability and incentives of independent beer distributors to sell and promote the beers of ABI’s rivals, including craft and imported beer and precludes ABI from acquiring beer distributors or brewers without allowing for department review of the acquisition’s likely competitive effects. In a statement following the DOJ’s announcement, Brewers Association president and CEO Bob Pease acknowledged the importance of including settlement conditions to preserve fair competition and access to market for America’s small and independent craft brewers, but also expressed concerns regarding how further independent craft brewery acquisitions by ABI may affect marketplace dynamics.

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