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DOJ approves largest beer merger in history

July 24, 2016 - 1:02 PM
- by Kendall Jones, Washington Beer Blog -

We've been reporting for some time about Anheuser-Busch InBev's plan to acquire SABMiller, the largest beer merger in history that could see one-third of all beer on the planet controlled by one company. Last report, the United States Department of Justice was investigating the matter. Today we learned that the DOJ has approved the acquisition. Yes, this creates a beer behemoth like the world has never known and could create an anti-competitive advantage that could negatively impact beer consumers, but it's not all bad news.

Recently the Brewers Association, which represents the interests of America's small and independent breweries, released a statement in response to the U.S. Department of Justice's decision to approve the merger.

Bob Pease, president and CEO of the Brewers Association (BA)—a not-for-profit trade association—released the following statement regarding the approval of Anheuser-Busch InBev's acquisition of SABMiller:

“Today’s decision by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to approve the acquisition of SABMiller by ABI stipulates many of the safeguards the Brewers Association requested to preserve fair competition and access to market for America’s small and independent craft brewers."

"While we continue to believe that the merger of the world’s two largest brewers is bad for both the beer industry and consumers, the DOJ’s significant requirements, including the termination of incentive programs such as the Voluntary Anheuser Busch Incentive for Performance Program (VAIP), a cap on ABI’s self-distribution volume and other measures to protect distributor independence, appear to address some of our major apprehensions with the merger. With effective enforcement of these provisions, small brewers can rely on their independent distributor partners to access the market. This will help ensure that beer enthusiasts can continue to enjoy a vast variety of options from the more than 4,600 breweries in the U.S."

"The Brewers Association will closely examine the consent decree and compliance with its provisions, as well as monitor ABI’s actions, specifically with regard to the acquisition of independent craft brewers. We remain concerned about how past, pending and future acquisitions may shift the dynamics of the current beer market. We will continue to encourage the DOJ to monitor and, where necessary, take action to remedy any anticompetitive effects of ABI's behavior in the U.S.”
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