This fall, beer makers AB-InBev and SABMiller will give birth to a 14-pound alcoholic baby with an oversized ego and an even bigger wallet. This is not the plot of the season’s biggest Hollywood blockbuster, but rather a visual portrait of the biggest beer merger in history. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the deal just got the go-ahead from Anheuser-Busch shareholders; the resulting conglomerate will control an estimated 46 percent of global beer profits.
A little background: AB-InBev, the world’s largest beer company, first revealed its intentions to buy out the second-largest beer company, SABMiller, last September. Over the past 12 months, the deal has had to clear numerous hurdles: First SABMiller played hard to get, eventually giving in when AB-InBev upped its offer to around $108 billion. Then, both companies had to sacrifice various interests, such as SABMiller selling off European beer labels Peroni and Grolsch. As a multinational conglomerate, the merger also had to win approval in 21 jurisdictions around the world.
A group of angry craft beer lovers filed a federal lawsuit against the two beverage giants, arguing that such a deal would violate antitrust laws and could unfairly crush the competition. Some U.S. lawmakers expressed similar concerns, but nonetheless the Justice Department gave the deal the green light — even though it had previously investigated AB-InBev for using unfair practices to get distributors to push its products over smaller craft brews.
In all likelihood, the average beer-buying consumer won’t notice the effects of such a merger. Some also think it could turn out to be a good thing for the craft beer industry, as the creation of such a corporate beer behemoth will encourage craft beer lovers to rally even stronger around independent companies.
But beyond concerns about an unfair monopoly, the merging of the two companies may put thousands out of work: Internal company documents obtained recently by the WSJ revealed that approximately 5,500 jobs could be eliminated in the years following the merger.