Australian consumer watchdog, the ACCC, has approved the Australian component of the gargantuan US$106bn (£73bn) Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) takeover of SABMiller.
The takeover by the Belgium firm would see the creation of Australia’s largest brewer, which would also control roughly 30% of the global beer market.
In a statement from the 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.
AB InBev to change distribution
AB InBev’s current primary distributor for products such as Corona is Lion but in order to satisfy ACCC concerns, AB InBev will terminate its agreements with Australian brewer Lion, which is fully owned by Japanese giant Kirin.
The ACCC statment continued: “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.”
However, while the Australia has approved the deal, the takeover bid is still awaiting approval from authorities in Europe and other key markets.
AB InBev, which owns brands such as Stella Artois and Budweiser, is hoping the SAB Miller acquisition will help it to grow its market share in Africa.