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Beer Drinkers Lose Anheuser-Busch Antitrust Appeal

By George Khoury, Esq. on August 15, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Anheuser-Busch and SABMiller merger, aka the Budweiser-Miller merger, has been approved and the most recent legal challenge denied. As the Ninth Circuit explained, the lawsuit, brought by "a bevy of beer aficionados trying to undo the acquisition of one brewing behemoth by another" failed to "belly up to the bar."

As far as quotes from the appellate court's decision, that's about as good as it gets. Unfortunately, the court's great quotes mean that the "beer aficionados" lost.

Antitrust Beer

While the beer drinkers seemed to have a palatable argument, that the acquisition of SABMiller by Anheuser-Busch would lead to decreased competition in the U.S. beer market, the brewing behemoths had already figured that problem out (to the court's satisfaction).

Basically, in order to avoid Anheuser-Busch controlling a majority of the beer market via the acquisition, SABMiller would divest its largest domestic beer holdings, including Miller and Coors. Furthermore, before new holdings can be brought on board, DOJ review will be required to prevent stifling competition in the market. Surprisingly, SABMiller divested its holdings to Molson.

Although the beer drinkers served the court with several other creative arguments, the Ninth Circuit agreed with the lower district court that each of the arguments were too speculative to warrant stopping the transaction.

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