AB InBev is set to snap up SABMiller in a US$107bn deal

AB InBev is set to snap up SABMiller in a US$107bn deal

The CEO of Anheuser-Busch InBev has told a Senate committee that his company's takeover of SABMiller will make the US beer market more competitive, not less.

In prepared remarks at a hearing to gauge whether anti-trust authorities should examine the US$107bn takeover of SABMiller, Carlos Brito today assured committee members the deal would not weaken the domestic beer market. "If anything, this deal will create an even more competitive landscape in the US by creating a stronger competitor in Molson Coors once it acquires SABMiller's interest in MillerCoors," Brito said.

A-B InBev is seeking regulatory approval for its takeover in a number of global markets, but has already moved to quell monopoly concerns in the US by agreeing to sell SABMiller's share in the MillerCoors JV to Molson Coors.

Brito also said the focus of the SAB takeover was not the US but markets in Africa, Asia and Central and South America. "It is about bringing more choices to more consumers around the world, including extending the reach of iconic American brands such as Budweiser to new markets," he said.

Molson Coors CEO Mark Hunter backed Brito's comments in his own prepared remarks, saying AB InBev "will get nothing in the US".

"Let me say right up front that our transaction does not injure competition, but unquestionably enhances it," Hunter said.

However, Brewers Association CEO Bob Pease said the deal risks increasing AB InBev's grip on the US beer market and called on the Government to force the brewer to divest its company-owned wholesalers and change an incentive programme that rewards distribution of AB InBev brands to the detriment of others.

"The immediate damage to competition that we have already seen in AB InBev's recent tactics cannot be remedied by relief provided years after competition is destroyed," Pease said. 

This week, AB InBev defended its new incentive programme after a media report claimed it could stifle craft beer's route to market.