EU Clears Anheuser-Busch Takeover of Miller

     (CN) — The European Commission on Tuesday approved AB InBev’s takeover of SABMiller, but with one giant condition: the world’s top brewer must sell off nearly all Miller’s business in Europe.
     “Today’s decision will ensure that competition is not weakened in these markets and that EU consumers are not worse off,” competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement. “Europeans buy around 125 billion euros of beer every year, so even a relatively small price increase could cause considerable harm to consumers. It was therefore very important to ensure that AB InBev’s takeover of SABMiller did not reduce competition on European beer markets.”
     The commission had initially balked at the former Anheuser-Busch’s bid to take over Miller — the world’s second largest brewer — but caved after the company offered to sell of nearly all of Miller’s business in the EU.
     Japanese brewing giant Asahi agreed to buy Miller’s Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime brands for nearly $3 billion last month, contingent on AB InBev completing the takeover.
     AB InBev’s brands include Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois.
     The commission said that on a global scale, the merger will create a super-brewery that will sell twice as much beer and earn four times more profit than the Netherlands-based Heineken, currently the world’s third largest brewer. The merger will also dwarf the business done by fourth largest brewer Carlsberg.
     To address the commission’s additional concerns, AB InBev agreed to sell off Miller’s business in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia as well.
     “In view of the remedies proposed, the commission concluded that the proposed transaction, as modified, would no longer raise competition concerns. Indeed, following the transaction, the intensity of competition in the European beer markets will remain unchanged,” the commission said in a statement.

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