Federal officials are looking at the proposed $104 billion merger of the two largest beer companies in the world, which would be the fifth largest merger of all time.
Benjamin Franklin once said “Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
Today, beer-making has become an art form, and beer consumption is nearing wine consumption in terms of its acceptance among societies.
But the industry of beer distribution is about to undergo a massive change as the world’s two largest beer producers near a merger.
AB InBev, the firm encompassing the former Anheuser-Busch beer domain, has offered to buy SABMiller, maker of Miller brands of beer, in a merger worth an estimated $104 billion. If the merger goes as planned, it will be the fifth-largest corporate merger in history in terms of financial expenditure.
Putting the exclamation point on the significance of the transaction, the Wall Street Journal said the merger “reshuffles the global beer industry and sets the stage for higher beer prices worldwide.”
There are roadblocks related to regulation, and SABMiller board members have to agree to the merger. Regulators are expected to demand SABMiller give up its rights to brew its most important domestic beers, Miller and Miller Lite, in the United States. (When AB InBev bought Mexican beer brewer Grupo Modelo, it had to spin off U.S. brewing of Corona and Modelo Especial into a separate company to please regulators wary of market monopoly.
If the merger occurs, AB InBev will control more than one quarter of the world’s beer sales, but will remain in competition with Miller for stateside sales of so-called macrobrew beers.
Besides Corona, AB InBev owns Stella Artois. SABMiller owns Peroni, Grolsch and Pilsner Urquell. Both beer companies have been investing in the craft beer market, as AB InBev has purchased the popular Chicago brand Goose Island and SABMiller now owns London’s Meantime Brewing Company.
One of the concerns related to the merger is the control one company would have over the beer market in the United States, and that concern is elevated due to a recent Department of Justice inquiry into AB InBev. According to Reuters, the DOJ is investigating whether AB InBev is trying to stifle competition by buying distributors and limiting the beers those distributors will deliver.
In most U.S. states, beer makers do not sell directly to bars or stores. They instead have to go through a middleman known as a wholesaler, or distributor, who then sells the beers to retailers. This was created back in the days following prohibition and was done then because wholesalers had influence. But where the industry stands today is that no beer gets sold without it going through a distributor.
Today, AB InBev owns 17 of the 500 companies that distribute its products, and the craft beer industry says the powerful company is increasing its power of beer distribution in the country. Not only is it clearly in charge of the distributors it owns, but AB InBev is also allegedly influencing distributors that carry Budweiser and the other AB InBev products to limit their distribution of craft beers.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.