US justice department to probe AB InBev after allegations it is seeking to curb craft beer distribution

 
James Nickerson
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AB InBev have until 5pm on Wednesday to make a formal offer (Source: Getty)

Brewing giant AB InBev is being probed by the US justice department amid allegations that it is trying to curb competition in the industry by buying distributors, according to people familiar with the matter.

AB InBev, Reuters reported, is buying distributors in order to make it harder for fast-growing craft beer brewers to get their products on the shelf.

Over the last few months AB InBev had tried to strike deals for five distributors in three states, as the states require brewers to use distributors to sell their product. Craft beer producers say they are not able to distribute beer once AB InBev buys a distributor.

Read more: Who will blink first: SAB Miller or AB InBev?

Antitrust regulators are also reviewing craft brewers' assertions that AB InBev encourages some independent distributors to carry just its products and end their relationships with craft beer brewers.

The timing couldn't be worse for AB InBev as the company targets London-based SABMiller, having made several proposals ahead of the deal's deadline tomorrow.

Read more: AB InBev says SABMiller's latest offer rejection "lacks credibility"

Today AB InBev increased its offer for SABMiller to £43.50 a share, a 48 per cent premium. The deal values the company, which brews Peroni, at £67.4bn.

While Altria, the largest shareholder in SABMiller with a 27 per cent stake, said last week it was in favour of an offer of £42.15 a share or more and urged the rest of the board to engage, SABMiller rejected previous offers saying they "lack credibility".

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