Anheuser-Busch InBev, SABMiller deal could "choke" US beer - Brewers Association
Pease said regulators should check AB InBev's power
Writing in the New York Times yesterday, Brewers Association head Bob Pease said the US$107bn deal risked stifling consumer choice as AB InBev gains greater control over distribution. Pease said the company is increasingly buying up independent distributors and if left unchecked by anti-trust regulators could use its size to shut out smaller brands.
"A merger between the world's two largest brewers would give the new global corporation... an even greater ability to hobble its competitors, at both the production and distribution levels," Pease said.
The BA chief executive also pointed to AB InBev's purchase of craft breweries, which in the past year have included California's Golden Road, Arizona's Four Peaks, Colorado's Breckenridge and Virginia's Devil's Backbone.
Pease said government should act against AB InBev's increasing control by establishing "legal guard rails" to preserve competition in the US beer industry. He said regulators should require AB InBev to sell off or reduce its share in its distribution network and the company to modify "anti-competitive incentives" to distributors.
"Finally, it could investigate ways to limit the number of additional independent breweries that the company can buy," Pease continued.
The comments follow a similar warning from Pease in a Senate committee hearing when he said the takeover risks increasing AB InBev's grip on the US beer market. The hearing came in the wake of allegations that A-B InBev's US arm, Anheuser-Busch, was buying distributors in an attempt to stifle craft beer competition and a storm over the company's incentive programme for distributors.
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