Senator Lee Holds Hearing on Proposed Inbev, SABMiller Merger [UPH Wire]

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

*Lee Holds Hearing on Proposed Inbev, SABMiller Merger*

WASHINGTON— Today, Mike Lee (R–UT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary
Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, is
holding a hearing

Anheuser–Busch Inbev’s proposal to purchase SABMiller. The hearing is
expected to examine how the proposed merger of the world’s two biggest beer
producers would impact competition and consumers across the country.

Below is Senator Lee’s opening statement, as prepared for delivery:

*The subject of today’s hearing is the proposed acquisition of SABMiller by
Anheuser-Busch InBev, the second largest and largest beer producers in the
world, respectively. AB InBev announced the acquisition, for approximately
$105 billion, on November 11. Concurrent with that transaction, the parties
announced a plan to divest SABMiller’s stake in MillerCoors to joint
venture partner Molson Coors Brewing Company. That stake represents the
entirety of SABMiller’s U.S. presence.*
*As a result, the parties expect their merger to have little if any impact
on the American beer market. If true, this will obviate the vast majority
of the concerns that traditionally accompany a merger of this size. Other
market participants, however, have voiced concerns about AB InBev’s
influence on distribution channels and the market access of small craft
brewers, alleging that AB InBev is seeking greater vertical integration and
attempting to exclude craft brewers from the market.*
*As we examine these central questions today and look at the overall state
of competition in the beer industry, we must focus that review on how the
current competitive dynamics will be impacted by the deal at hand. This
analysis must consider both components of the transaction: the acquisition,
as well as the divestiture of SABMiller’s entire U.S. business. Moreover,
we will do well to remember that antitrust analysis is extremely fact
specific and not driven by mere speculation or suggestion.*
*While legitimate antitrust concerns may exist with respect to AB InBev’s
relationship with distributors, this hearing is first and foremost about
its acquisition of SABMiller. Under the Clayton Act, the relevant inquiry
is whether the effects of the deal “may be substantially to lessen
competition, or to tend to create a monopoly,” not whether conditions might
be attached to the merger’s approval to restructure the market to the
liking of the government or private plaintiffs. When, as is the case here,
the acquiring party intends to divest the entirety of the acquired
company’s U.S. business, the transaction’s effects on competition in
American markets are likely to be negligible.*
*The American beer market is a more than $100 billion business, and
delivers a product that, in both its national brand and regional craft brew
forms, holds a special place in American culture and hospitality. Today’s
hearing will provide a much needed opportunity to assess competition in the
industry as it relates to this historic deal. I look forward to hearing
from our esteemed witnesses and the productive discussion their testimony
will no doubt inspire.*

*Communications Director*
Conn Carroll

*Press Secretary*
Emily Long


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