Thou Shalt Make a Beer Company
An antitrust case could lead to the creation of a major new competitor.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced a settlement in an antitrust case today that would require Anheuser Busch to lop off the entirety of Grupo Modelo's U.S. business if the beer maker wants to acquire the Mexican brewer (and maker of Corona) for $20.1 billion. Corona, Pacifico and other brands plus a major brewery in Mexico would have to be sold to New York-based Constellation Brands, a major owner of beer, wine and spirit brands.
DOJ officials said that completely consolidating the market power of Anheuser Busch and Grupo Modelo would have stifled competition among the U.S. beer titans. "The proposed settlement announced today will create an independent, fully integrated and economically viable competitor to (Anheuser Busch)," Bill Baer, the assistant attorney general in charge of the DOJ's Antitrust Division said in a statement. Anheuser Busch had previously proposed a much weaker alternative that would have established a partnership between Constellation and the Anheuser Busch-Grupo Modelo congolmerate to sell just Crown beer in the U.S.
Anheuser Busch sells more beer in the U.S. than any other company, whereas Modelo is the third-largest purveyor. MillerCoors, which has roots in Milwaukee's very own Menomonee Valley, remains in second place.
The settlement is not final – it still requires approval by a federal judge.