Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (NYSE:BUD) (EBR:ABI) reached a final settlement agreement with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), regarding the anti-trust lawsuit filed against it in connection with its proposal to acquire the remaining 50 percent stake in Grupo Modelo SAB de CV (PINK:GPMCF) for $20.1 billion.
Based on the agreement, Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (NYSE:BUD) (EBR:ABI) is required to sell its Piedras Negras brewery. Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE:STZ) will purchase the brewery to make Corona beers and other Modelo brands for the U.S. Market. Constellation is required to produce 20 million hectoliters of beer by December 31, 2016.
Last February, Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (NYSE:BUD) (EBR:ABI) submitted a new set of proposals to the DOJ and agreed to sell one brewery in Mexico to Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE:STZ) in addition to its agreement with the company to sell its 50 percent stake in Crown Imports in order to merge with Grupo Modelo. The Belgian brewer gave up its right to repurchase its stake in Crown Imports every ten years
In a press statement, Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (NYSE:BUD) (EBR:ABI) said its agreement with the DOJ is “substantially in line with the revised transaction” it submitted on February 14, 2013. The company said, “The proposed Final Judgment presented to the Court includes additional binding commitments to the revised transaction, which are designed to ensure a prompt divestiture of assets by AB InBev to Constellation, the necessary build-out of the Piedras Negras brewery by Constellation, as well as certain distribution guarantees for Constellation in the United States.”
According to the Belgian brewer, AB InBev, Grupo Modelo SAB de CV (PINK:GPMCF) and Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE:STZ) will move swiftly to complete its impending transactions once the court signed its order and stipulation. The company also said that the Mexican Competition Commission also approved its revised transaction with Constellation early this month, and expects to complete the deal on June this year.
The Justice Department filed the anti-trust lawsuit against An InBev last January, saying that the initial terms of the Grupo Modelo transaction would reduce competition in the U.S. market and it would lead to price increases.
DOJ’s head of anti-trust division, Bill Baer, previously stated, “If ABI fully owned and controlled Modelo, ABI it would be able to increase beer prices to American consumers. This lawsuit seeks to prevent ABI from eliminating Modelo as an important competitive force in the beer industry.”
The DOJ blocked the Grupo Modelo deal after five legislators raised their concerns that the Belgian brewer has the ability to pressure independent beer distributors to stop selling competing brands.