US: A-B taken to task by Florida distributor
Anheuser-Busch is being countersued in the US by one of its distributors in Florida.
Earlier this month, the brewer issued a suit against Eagle Brands, its distributor in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. In the suit, A-B said it wanted the court to uphold its decision to refuse Eagle Brands from selling up to fellow Florida beer distributor Gold Coast Beverage Distributors.
"This sale would have resulted in an anticompetitive situation that would not be in the best interest of Anheuser-Busch and local consumers of our beer and beverage brands," David Peacock, A-B's vice president of business operations, told the Miami Herald.
In the countersuit, issued on Monday (18 June) Eagle Brands has accused A-B of showing "nothing more than a feigned 'concern' for the public beer market, which AB itself has been trying to dominate for decades", the paper reported.
Eagle Brands gave A-B details of the planned sale in February, with a deadline of 18 March to respond. As A-B did not give its opinion before the deadline, Eagle believes this silence should automatically constitute approval, the paper said.
When contacted by just-drinks today, Dave Peacock, vice president of business operations at A-B, said: "Our wholesalers are vital to our brand interests and they sell our brands according to an equity agreement with Anheuser-Busch that provides each with an exclusive selling territory. According to this agreement and under Florida Beer Franchise Law, we have the right to disapprove a sale that is not in the best interests of our products.
"We feel that the filing of the lawsuit was necessary to resolve the issue with Eagle Brands because they believe that the disapproval was not justified, and that Anheuser-Busch must compensate them for the lost sale opportunity.
"This lawsuit is not about financial benefit to Anheuser-Busch, but rather to clarify that our disapproval in this instance of a sale that would have resulted in a monopoly was properly handled."
While Eagle has distributed Budweiser and other A-B products since 1984, Gold Coast handles the InBev beers that A-B struck a deal last year to distribute in the US.
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