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A small band of grumpy ale lovers is trying to stop the world’s biggest beer merger

Reuters/David W Cerny
Well, cheers?
  • Aamna Mohdin
By Aamna Mohdin


Published This article is more than 2 years old.

The world’s two biggest brewers have agreed on a deal to merge, but not everyone is happy. If the takeover is successful, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s $110-billion merger with SABMiller will end up producing a third of the world’s beer.

Some disgruntled ale drinkers are concerned the mega-merger could lead to higher beer prices and fewer options, so they’ve decided to sue. The lawsuit was filed this week by San Francisco lawyer Joseph Alioto on behalf of 23 beer enthusiasts from Oregon, California, and Washington—all places known for their love of craft beer.

Of that group, 19 are from Oregon. The lead plaintiff is James DeHoog, who owns an air-quality business, and likes to drink local brews. He told the Oregonian:

I think what we need to be focused on is creating small businesses. Why do we want to allow one entity to control that market? I don’t think it’s good for consumers, I don’t think it’s good for industry, I don’t think it’s good for the tax base, I don’t think it’s good for any of that.

The lawsuit reads:

Plaintiffs are threatened with loss or damage in the form of higher beer prices and less consumer options. If defendants’ proposed transaction is consummated, plaintiffs will sustain irreparable harm for which damages will be unable to compensate plaintiffs, in that competition once lost cannot easily be restored

AB InBev has denied claims the merger will stifle competition and variety. But the beer-making powerhouse has recently announced it’s considering selling off certain beer brands, including Peroni and Grolsch, to proactively address competition concerns.

AB InBev is currently contacting potential buyers. Maybe the plaintiffs should throw their hat in the ring?

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