he Justice Department has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Anheuser-Busch InBev, the maker of Budweiser, to block its acquisition of Grupo Modelo, maker of Corona, officials announced Thursday.
The department said the proposed $20.1-billion merger of the world's largest and third-largest beer makers would lead to an increase in retail prices to consumers.
Anheuser-Busch InBev, based in Belgium, had a 50% non-controlling stake in Mexico-based Grupo Modelo before offering to buy the rest of the company last year.
The Justice Department said AB InBev and Grupo Modelo account for 46% of beer sales in the U.S.
"We took this action today because we believe the acquisition is a bad deal for American consumers,” Bill Baer, assistant attorney general in charge of the antitrust division, said in a conference call.
"It would lessen competition for beer ... resulting in consumers at risk paying more for beers and having fewer new products to choose from. It would concentrate the beer industry further," Baer said.
Justice Department investigators said in the complaint that AB InBev had previously sought to compete with Grupo Modelo's popular Corona brand beer by launching Bud Light Lime.
AB InBev "went as far as to mimic Corona's distinctive clear bottle," the complaint said. "Ultimately, instead of trying to compete head-to-head with its own product, Bud Light Lime, [AB InBev] is thwarting competition by buying Modelo."
The Belgian firm said in a statement that it planned to contest the lawsuit and that it no longer expects the deal to close during the first quarter of 2013.
The lawsuit was filed despite an offer by AB InBev to sell its 50% stake in Crown Imports, which along with Constellation imports and markets Modelo beers in the U.S.
Slanted way to put it: Sprint-Softbank will start with the about 19% marketshare position and the challenge of building networks and share against heavily capitalized, higher margin competitors Verizon and AT&T.. the DOJ and FCC may well seek to make the spectrum landscape an open field to play, however, they won't look at this as Sprint being the near-term juggernaut your post suggests.
This and other recent moves by the top five operators have been reshaping the structure of the industry that will take several years to fully play out. If this were just about control of current markets, you could kick Verizon and AT&T to the curb. For the most part, the three other large players have sat this out - not objecting to the acquisition or even the amalgamation of spectrum altogether. Once they saw the course of events, they have stepped in to object to the degree of ownership and, therefore, allocation of the spectrum allowed by the FCC. That is where they can object in a way that doesn't trim their own options in the future either by setting up the wrong tone of arguments, ie. that no operator should be allowed to control xx amount of spectrum, or that acquisitions should be opposed by the FCC/DOJ. For the most part, the largest players want to grow even larger. They will face regulatory barriers to entry into mobile TV, mobile payments, and expansion into mobile-in-your-face-and-in-your-wallet-all-the-time-in-all-places. The BORG wants to assimilate everywhere! Seriously, the bigger picture will include all-screens SeC, Social eCommerce that embraces business, datacom, and media communications that is envisioned to become up to several times larger than present day TV, consumer electronics, Internet, and mobile industries that the operators have a pivotal position that they hope to expand, but that will require regulators and Congress to go along with. Clearwire is a spectrum holder, important and this comes about at a juncture that is timely in playing a role in how the future structure of the industry is decided, but its still only one part.