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Brewers Association warns Anheuser-Busch InBev deal could stifle US market

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The Brewers Association has urged US authorities to examine Anheuser-Busch InBev's proposed takeover of SABMiller to ensure small brewers are not blocked from the market. 

The association wants anti-trust authorities to scrutinise the takeover

The association wants anti-trust authorities to scrutinise the takeover

The trade group, which represents small and independent brewers in the US, said the deal had “many ramifications” for the beer industry, including A-B InBev's continued distribution dominance. It said it is “vital” for small brewers to have a route to market with “an independent and competitive middle distribution tier”.

"Over time, A-B InBev will have significant new global revenues to invest in the US if it chooses to do so as a result of this acquisition,” the association said. “A-B InBev's new international footprint and scale give the company greater influence over commodities used in brewing and many other facets of the beer industry that could affect competition in the US market.

“All of these issues - and their potential effect on small brewers, the broader industry and US beer drinkers - must be carefully weighed and scrutinised by anti-trust authorities.”

On Wednesday, A-B InBev secured the purchase of SABMiller for around GBP71bn (US$107.3bn). At the same time, Molson Coors confirmed its intention to buy out SABMiller from the MillerCoors US joint venture for US$12bn in a deal that should help A-B InBev placate anti-trust authorities in the US. However, the company still requires the green light from US regulators, and anti-trust bodies in other global markets, before it can complete the takeover.

Last month, regulators in the US were probing allegations that A-B InBev's US arm, Anheuser-Busch, is buying distributors in an attempt to stifle craft beer competition.
A-B has recently ramped up efforts to strengthen its distribution network with a number of swoops for US distributors. In July, it said it was to buy Colorado's American Eagle Distributing in Loveland as well as transfer ownership of its Kentucky operations to Standard Sales Co in exchange for operations in Littleton, Pueblo and Colorado Springs, also in Colorado. In August, the brewer agreed to buy New York distributor R Ippolito Distributing for an undisclosed fee.


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