The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will not oppose the proposed acquisition of SABMiller plc (SABMiller) by Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev).
“The ACCC has concluded that the proposed acquisition is not likely to substantially lessen competition in the Australian beer market,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“The ACCC found that the proposed acquisition would not significantly change the current market structure. The two largest suppliers of beer in Australia are Lion and SABMiller, which owns Carlton & United Breweries (CUB). While AB InBev’s brands have been successful in Australia, particularly Corona, they have previously been distributed via either Lion or CUB. AB InBev has only a limited direct company presence in Australia and does not brew beer here.”
“The ACCC considers that the proposed acquisition is unlikely to result in higher beer prices for consumers,” Mr Sims said.
Importantly, AB InBev has served notices to terminate agreements with Lion for the distribution of Corona and other AB InBev brands in Australia (subject to certain notice periods). The ACCC had been concerned that, if these distribution agreements continued, the proposed acquisition may have increased the ability and incentive for coordination between Lion and AB InBev/SABMiller. After the termination of these distribution agreements, the relevant beer brands will in future be distributed in Australia by AB InBev/SABMiller.
“The termination of the distribution arrangements therefore resolved the ACCC’s competition concerns,” Mr Sims said.
AB InBev is the world’s largest brewer and is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium. In Australia, AB InBev does not operate any breweries and uses Lion as its main distributor. AB InBev’s single largest selling brand in Australia is Corona. AB InBev’s other brands include Stella Artois, Beck’s and Budweiser.
SABMiller is a multinational brewing and beverage company. It is headquartered in London, England. SABMiller is currently the second largest supplier of beer in Australia, behind Lion. It operates via its local subsidiary Carlton & United Breweries. Its brands include Victoria Bitter, Carlton and Crown Lager.
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