AB InBev/SABMiller Merger Faces Final Hurdles

Regulatory approval remains in question in two major markets

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Justice Department is expected to approve the merger of the two largest brewers in the world as part of its antitrust review of the $108 billion deal, according to reports.

U.S. and Chinese regulatory leaders stand as the biggest hurdles left for Anheuser-Busch InBev to leap in its ongoing drive to purchase SABMiller LLC.

The Belgium-based brewer announced this week it earned approval from the Competition Commission of South Africa, the home of SABMiller, and the previous week from the European Commission.

With those actions, AB InBev has now obtained approval in 15 jurisdictions around the world and awaits rulings from two of its largest markets, the United States and China.

“We are very pleased with the positive decision of the European Commission," AB InBev CEO Carlos Brito said on May 24. "With this clearance, we remain firmly on track for a closing in the second half of 2016."

AB InBev took several preemptive measures to avoid conflict with regulators looking to avoid any one brewer owning too much of the beer market.

  • In the United States, AB InBev agreed to sell its 58% share of the MillerCoors joint venture for $12 billion to Molson Coors, the minority owner. MillerCoors also will take ownership of all Miller beer brands in the United States.
  • In Europe, AB InBev agreed to sell the Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime beer brands to Japan's Asahi Group Holdings. SABMiller also is selling its businesses in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania.
  • In South America, AB InBev will transfer SABMiller's Panamanian business to Ambev, which will give up its business in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador in exchange.

Brito said the combination of AB InBev and SABMiller "would create a truly global brewer, providing more choices for beer drinkers, including global and local brands, in new and existing markets around the world."

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