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ABI-SABMiller Deal Gets EU Approval, But Is Delayed In U.S. Amid Distribution Concerns

May 25, 2016

Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) has gained approval from European regulators to proceed with its $107 billion acquisition of top rival SABMiller, but as part of the pending deal’s review in the U.S., regulators are reportedly questioning some of the brewing behemoth’s incentive policies for distributors. According to Reuters, U.S. antitrust officials are investigating a plan ABI launched late last year that incentivizes independent distributors to make up 98% of their sales with ABI brands. Under the plan, ABI reimburses distributors for 75% of their advertising spend on ABI products if the distributor meets that 98% threshold. Reuters’ sources said the arrangement appears designed more to suppress craft beer as a percentage of wholesalers’ business than an incentive to grow ABI sales. ABI countered that the program is voluntary and reflective of the highly competitive conditions in the U.S. beer market.

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