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Beer Mega-Merger Gets Green Light From European Union

The resulting AB-InBev/SABMiller conglomerate would own 1 in 3 beers worldwide

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

The world is one step closer to a beer superpower. After an investigation spanning nearly two months, the European Union has granted approval for the €92 billion (approximately $103 billion) merger between AB InBev and SAB Miller, reports the Wall Street Journal.

There are some conditions, however. SABMiller must ditch nearly all of its European holdings, a process that's already well underway: SABMiller beer labels Peroni and Grolsch were recently sold to Japan's Asahi, and its Eastern European holdings have also been put up for sale (and could fetch an estimated $8 billion). In further efforts to woo antitrust regulators, the beer giant has also agreed to sell its stake in SABMiller's Chinese beers.

The merger will create a beer behemoth that effectively controls a vast quantity of the world's beer. According to the WSJ, the EU's antitrust arm "said it initially had concerns the deal would have led to higher prices and would have made tacit coordination among rival brewers more likely."

In order to gain merger approval from South Africa, AB InBev coughed up $70 million and promised not to eliminate any jobs. It still has to win approval from the U.S., where it has faced scrutiny from lawmakers who say they're concerned such a merger could make business harder for smaller beer makers.

Once the merger is finalized, the resulting company will account for nearly 30 percent of the beer market worldwide, or every one in three beers sold. Those opposed to the deal say it would lessen competition and increase prices.

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