The US arm of A-B  InBev is fighting for a distributor licence in Owensboro, Kentucky

The US arm of A-B InBev is fighting for a distributor licence in Owensboro, Kentucky

The US arm of Anheuser-Busch InBev has filed a lawsuit in Kentucky urging the state's authorities to grant it a distributor licence, which would allow it to acquire a local wholesaler.

Anheuser-Busch wants the Kentucky State Alcoholic Beverage Control malt beverage administrator to “immediately” give it a licence in the Kentucky city of Owensboro. The brewer said the licence is needed to complete its acquisition of Hand Family Cos, a Tennessee-based beer distributor, which also operates in Kentucky. 

A-B's initial application for a licence was approved by Owensboro ABC administrator, but has since faced opposition. Lobby group Alcohol Justice reportedly warned in a letter that allowing the company a licence in the state would “ultimately expand ABI's ability to oppose and defeat important public health policy regarding alcohol prices and taxes”.

The Kentucky Guild of Brewers has also spoken out against the Budweiser brewer's bid, claiming the move would hamper small brewers. 

However, A-B pointed to the fact that it has owned a distributor in the state, in Louisville, since 1978, which sets a "legal precedent". It branded the application process "highly abnormal and unusually lenghty". 

“This transaction should not affect consumers in any way," the company said. "In fact, there have never been more choices for beer consumers – including those in Kentucky where the craft beer industry is booming.”

Bob Kelley, Anheuser-Busch region VP for sales, added: “Given the significant investment Anheuser-Busch has made in our brands, we should have a say in how our products are delivered to customers.”