USA: Federal appeals court rejects antitrust challenge against AB InBev

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Portland, Oregon upheld an October 2016 ruling and rejected an antitrust challenge by 23 beer drinkers concerning AB-InBev's $107 billion purchase of rival SABMiller in 2016. The court argued that the merger did not create “an appreciable danger or a reasonable probability of anticompetitive effects in the relevant market,” which is deemed essential in the federal Clayton Act to prohibit a merger. Even more, AB InBev prevented increased concentration in the industry, by divesting its 58% stake in MillerCoors to rival Molson Coors Brewing Co. The $12 billion acquisition made Molson Coors the second-largest brewer in the US with a 25% market share compared with AB InBev’s 44%. (, 28.9.2016)

Joseph M. Alioto, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said he wants the case to be revisited by the panel or an 11-judge appeals court panel. “The court overlooked the elephant in the room: that the 72 percent of the market that was occupied by ABI, SAB and Molson is now occupied by two,” Alioto was quoted by Reuters. “Is the elimination of the second-largest brewer in the world from the U.S. market a lessening of competition? I don’t think there is any doubt.”

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