SABMiller (owner of the brands Miller, Peroni, Pilsner Urquell and Grolsch) is the world’s second largest brewer, just behind AB InBev, largest one at global level and owner of Corona, Stella Artois and Budweiser. The approval is subject to AB InBev divest in practically the entire SABMiller beer business in Europe.
In comparative terms, worldwide, the merged entity will sell twice as much beer and reach four times more profit than Heineken, currently the third largest brewer, and five times more beer and twelve times more profit than Carlsberg, the fourth largest brewer.
In Europe, where Heineken and Carlsberg are the market leaders, the merger brings together the third and fourth competitors. AB InBev has a very strong presence in Belgium and Luxembourg and it is also present in Eastern Europe through Molson Coors, the company’s bottler and distributor. By its side, SABMiller is especially strong in Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania.
The Commission’s investigation showed that the transaction could lead to an increase in prices in all EU countries where SABMiller is active. Therefore, AB InBev proposed to divest the whole SABMiller’s business in France, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK, for which it has already accepted an offer made by the Japanese brewer Asahi.
In order to address the additional competition concerns, AB InBev also offered to divest SABMiller’s business in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
Based on these remedies, the Commission considered that the proposed transaction, would no longer raise competition concerns and it has granted the approval.