Rethinking U.S. Antitrust Policy in the Wake of ABI’s Acquisition of Sabmiller

Anheuser-Busch InBev (“ABI”) won antitrust approval for its $101 billion acquisition of SABMiller in July of 2016. The main reason the deal was allowed to go through was because ABI agreed to divest SABMiller’s 59% equity stake in the MillerCoors joint venture to Molson Coors Brewing for approximately $12 billion, transforming a would-be horizontal merger into a conglomerate merger. It is estimated that, after the merger closes, ABI will end up with 46% of the world’s beer profits. The transaction is expected to be the third largest acquisition ever made. It is unclear what the effect on consumer welfare will be from the ABI-SABMiller combination, but it is necessary to scrutinize current U.S. antitrust merger policy by checking the effectiveness of merger remedies. In doing so, this Note compares U.S. merger antitrust policy across the Atlantic Ocean to learn from Europe. It also analyzes the potential anticompetitive effects of ABI’s approved plan to acquire SABMiller.

“[T]he conviction was universal that the country was in real danger from another kind of slavery sought to be fastened on the American people; namely, the slavery that would result from aggregations of capital in the hands of [the] few . . . .”

—Justice John Marshall Harlan, 19111

The full text of this Note is available to download as a PDF.