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The final hurdles blocking InBev's acquisition of Anheuser-Busch have been cleared ahead of the deal completion yesterday (18 November).

China's Ministry of Commerce gave its approval for the purchase, also yesterday, on the condition that the new entity, now called Anheuser-Busch InBev, does not up its A-B-held 27% stake in Tsingtao Brewery Co. or InBev's 28.56% stake in Zhujiang Brewery in the country.

Restricting A-B InBev's holdings in the two companies would "reduce negative impact on future competition in domestic market", the Ministry said.

At the same time, the Office of Fair Trading in the UK cleared the purchase, despite the addition of "one significant premium lager brand, Budweiser, to InBev's portfolio, already the UK's leading premium lager supplier based on Stella Artois and Beck's".

"The evidence in this case showed that, despite some high shares on certain candidate market definitions, there was no realistic prospect that drinkers of Stella, Beck's or Bud would pay more as a result of this merger," said the senior director of mergers at the OFT, Simon Pritchard. "Given the reassuringly extensive evidence to support this view, the right answer is therefore to clear this acquisition."

Speaking yesterday, A-B InBev's CEO, Carlos Brito said that the company will focus on integrating operations "as quickly as possible".

"We see lots of upside for all our stakeholders including our shareholders," said Brito. "Our priority continues to be to grow the top line."

Brito, who became CEO of InBev when the Belgian company acquired AmBev, also said that he was confident of  successfully proceeding with the integration process. "My management team has been through three integrations in the last eight years," he said. "We have over-delivered normally on those plans. It will be a great learning experience."

The new company will begin trading tomorrow.


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