The beer mega-merger that combines AB InBev and SABMiller might hurt the American craft beer market, according to concerned U.S. Senators reviewing the deal. AB InBev says the deal is simply a way for the company to expand into new global markets. However, craft beer makers and their elected representation are worried the merger will push out the little guys.
In a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee, Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said the "trend toward mammoth beer behemoths" isn't good for consumers, reports Reuters. AB InBev CEO Carlos Brito said the deal isn't meant to hurt American craft brewers, but "is really about the rest of the world." Sen. Chris Coons of Deleware echoed Blumenthal's concern: "Nobody wants to take a seat at a bar and discover that their only choices are a Bud and a Miller."
Sitting at a bar that only offers Bud and Miller doesn't sound great, but AB InBev claims it's making sacrifices to avoid that scenario. To square the merger in the U.S., SABMiller agreed to sell its 58 percent stake in MillerCoors to Molson Coors for approximately $12 billion. That move hasn't eased nervous craft beer fans, and a group of 23 recently filed a lawsuit in an attempt to stop the merger. The suit claims AB InBev and SABMiller coming together would cause "irreparable harm for which damages will be unable to compensate plaintiffs, in that competition once lost cannot easily be restored."
AB InBev responded to the lawsuit by claiming the "U.S. beer market has never been more competitive." Nevertheless, even before the massive merger was agreed upon, the U.S. Justice Department undertook an investigation into AB InBev to determine whether it uses unfair practices to squash its smaller competitors.