AB InBev, U.S. Settlement on Modelo Deal Approved

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV and the U.S. won approval from a federal judge of the plan to resolve the government’s antitrust lawsuit over the beermaker’s proposed $20.1 billion purchase of Grupo Modelo SAB.

U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts in Washington yesterday issued an order governing steps needed for completion of the deal as submitted to him by the Justice Department and the brewers in the case, including adding Constellation Brands Inc. as a defendant in the suit. The judge has yet to approve the final settlement.

In a proposed settlement filed April 19, AB InBev made binding commitments to turn winemaker Constellation Brands into a competing brewer that will produce and control all Modelo brands in the U.S., including Corona, the country’s biggest import. The government said the accord could save beer drinkers almost $1 billion a year due to lower prices.

The agreement permits AB InBev, the world’s biggest beermaker, to intensify its push into fast-growing emerging markets. It also allows Constellation to buy the stake that Modelo holds in their joint U.S. distribution venture for $1.85 billion, as announced at the time of AB InBev’s original bid. The Leuven, Belgium-based company expects the Modelo merger to deliver cost and revenue benefits of at least $1 billion a year as it extends its global lead over No. 2 SABMiller Plc.

The case is U.S. v. Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, 13-cv-00127, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).