The settlement reflects many of the actions Klobuchar has previously called for, including prohibiting Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) from disadvantaging rivals with distributors and providing for the review of future ABI acquisitions
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, released the following statements on the Department of Justice (DOJ) settlement with Anheuser-Busch Inbev (ABI):
"The American beer market is a more than $100 billion business, and delivers a product that, in both its national brand and regional craft brew forms, holds a special place in American culture and hospitality,” said Lee. “While studying the Anheuser-Busch Inbev’s proposal to purchase SABMiller last winter, we were concerned with AB InBev’s influence on distribution channels and whether the merger would affect the ability of small craft brewers to continue to access the market through traditional channels. I am happy to hear the announcement today that the Department of Justice has reached a settlement with ABI which will allow the merger to continue while protecting small craft brewers’ market access."
“As Ranking Member of the Antitrust Subcommittee, I have fought hard to promote competition within all industries and sectors because competition protects consumers and fosters innovation,” said Klobuchar. “Our thriving craft and independent brewers depend on access to distribution channels in order to create jobs and economic growth across the country. That’s why I urged the Department of Justice to carefully consider the proposed Anheuser-Busch Inbev and SABMiller merger. I am encouraged that today’s announcement reflects the concerns I raised in letters and hearings over the past year. I will be vigilant to ensure that craft brewers have access to distribution channels and competition in the $100 billion-a-year beer industry remains on tap.”
The settlement reflects many of the actions Klobuchar has previously called for, including prohibiting ABI from disadvantaging rivals with distributors and providing for a review of future ABI acquisitions. More specifically, the settlement will:
- Require ABI to completely divest SABMiller’s United States assets.
- Prohibit ABI and Molson Coors, the acquirer of SABMiller’s United States assets, from terminating or renegotiating wholesaler agreements as a result of the merger and divestiture.
- Prohibit ABI from controlling more than 10 percent of their wholesale beer distribution.
- Prohibit ABI’s current incentive program for wholesalers.
- Prohibit ABI from purchasing any future craft breweries without providing DOJ advance notice and an opportunity to review.
In a letter to DOJ last month, Klobuchar raised concerns that ABI’s current incentive program for wholesalers could stifle competition and that ABI’s pattern of acquiring smaller craft brewers could pose a long-term threat to competition and must be monitored. Last December, Klobuchar and Lee held an Antitrust Subcommittee hearing on ABI’s proposal to purchase SABMiller for over $103 billion. The hearing examined how the proposed merger of the world’s two biggest beer producers would impact competition and consumers across the country, including the more than 110 breweries located in Minnesota. In April, the lawmakers wrote a letter to DOJ urging it to carefully consider the proposed ABI’s acquisition of SABMiller and to hold ABI and MillerCoors to commitments made by the CEO not to increase their ownership of beer wholesalers and not to terminate or renegotiate their wholesaler agreements as a result of the acquisition and divestitures.