EUROPE: Regulators Conditionally Approve AB InBev-SABMiller Deal

The European Commission has approved Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller’s mega-deal, in the biggest such regulatory clearance for the merger plans. The move follows approval in 14 other jurisdictions including Australian and South Africa.

However, the EU regulator has based its approval on the condition that AB InBev sell almost all of SABMiller’s beer business in Europe. Margrethe Vestager, the EU Competition Commissioner, noted that even a relatively small increase in market power would considerably harm consumers. Vestager added: “It was therefore very important that AB InBev’s takeover of SABMiller did not reduce competition on European beer markets”.

AB InBev has already entered into an agreement for the sale of the Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime brands and their associated businesses in Italy, the Netherlands, UK and internationally (excluding certain US rights) to Japanese group Asahi. It has also reached agreed to sell off its Central and Eastern European businesses after the tie-up with AB InBev is completed.