Anheuser-Busch InBev has entered into a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice, which clears the way for U.S. approval of its estimated US$104 billion merger with SABMiller plc. If approved by international regulatory bodies, the deal is expected to close in the second half of 2016 and would create the world’s largest beverage company with combined revenues of approximately $73.5 billion globally.
AB InBev has obtained approval in 21 jurisdictions, including North America (United States and Canada); Asia-Pacific (Australia, India and South Korea); Africa (Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa); Europe (the EU, Albania, Moldova, Turkey and Ukraine); and Latin America (Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay). Approval in Ecuador is subject to certain conditions.
Analysts have speculated that one in three beers sold globally would be owned by AB-InBev. This deal comes more than one year after the $54-billion monster acquisition of Kraft Foods Group by H.J. Heinz Company that formed the third-largest food and beverage company in North America and the fifth-largest in the world.
“With today’s agreement, we have taken a significant step forward on the transaction, which will create the world’s first truly global brewer," said Carlos Brito, CEO of AB InBev. “Our combination with SABMiller will bring more choice to more beer drinkers—and extend the global reach of our iconic American brands, such as Budweiser—in markets outside of the U.S."
As part of the consent decree and consistent with AB InBev’s approach to proactively address potential regulatory concerns, the company agreed to divest SABMiller’s U.S. interest in MillerCoors to Molson Coors. This divestiture, which was previously announced between AB InBev and Molson Coors, is conditioned on the successful closing of the combination of AB InBev with SABMiller.
The terms of the consent decree formalize prior commitments the company’s U.S. entity Anheuser-Busch has made including AB will not acquire a distributor if doing so would result in more than 10 percent of its annual volume being distributed through wholly-owned distributorships in the United States; and AB will not terminate any wholesalers as a result of the combination with SABMiller. In addition, certain aspects of the company’s U.S. sales programs and policies will be reviewed and modified to conform to the consent decree.
AB InBev is the leading global brewer and one of the world’s top five consumer products companies. The company’s portfolio of more than 200 beer brands includes global brands Budweiser®, Corona® and Stella Artois®; international brands Beck’s®, Leffe®, and Hoegaarden®; and local champions Bud Light®, Skol®, Brahma®, Antarctica®, Quilmes®, Victoria®, Modelo Especial®, Michelob Ultra®, Harbin®, Sedrin®, Klinskoye®, Sibirskaya Korona®, Chernigivske®, Cass® and Jupiler®. AB InBev has approximately 150,000 employees based in 26 countries. In 2015, AB InBev rang up US$43.6 billion in revenues.
SABMiller plc is the world’s second-largest brewing company and one of the world’s largest bottlers of Coca-Cola drinks. The company also produces a portfolio of wholly-owned soft drinks brands. SABMiller operates in more than 80 countries with approximately 70,000 employees. Its brand portfolio includes leading local brands such as Aguila (Colombia), Castle (South Africa), Miller Lite (USA), Snow (China), Victoria Bitter (Australia) and Tyskie (Poland) as well as global brands such as Pilsner Urquell, Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Miller Genuine Draft and Grolsch. In the year ended March, 31, 2015, SABMiller sold 324 million hectolitres of lager, soft drinks and other alcoholic beverages, generating revenues of US$26.4 billion.
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