Anheuser-Busch InBev Finalizes Beer Buyout

Anheuser-Busch Inbev (NYSE: BUD  ) today announced that it has officially (and finally) received government approval to acquire the part of Grupo Modelo it doesn't already own for $20.1 billion.

The U.S. Department of Justice initially sued A-B on Jan. 31 to block the deal, on the grounds that the newly enlarged company would have a near-monopoly on the American beer market.

The terms of the finalized agreement are largely unchanged from what was tentatively decided [link opens in PDF] on Feb. 14. They include Constellation Brands (NYSE: STZ  ) purchasing the 50% ownership of Corona importer Crown Imports that it doesn't already own. Modelo and Constellation formed Crown as a joint venture.

Constellation President and CEO Rob Sands called the agreement "the most transformational event" in his company's history, citing nearly doubled sales, increased earnings and cash flow, and significantly more diverse growth opportunities.

The deal includes Anheuser handing over Grupo Modelo's Piedras Negras brewery to Constellation. The brewery currently supplies 60% of U.S. demand for Crown's products (primarily Corona beer), but a three-year, $400 million expansion project will push production up to meet 100% of the U.S.'s Corona cravings.

Constellation said it will "have full control of its production and supply chain and have full rights to create line extensions and new brands to continue to drive the business." The February outline of terms had Constellation paying $4.75 billion.

Pending final court approvals, the transaction is expected to close sometime in June.

"The proposed settlement ... will create an independent, fully integrated and economically viable competitor to ABI. This is a win for the $80 billion U.S. beer market and consumers,” said Bill Baer, assistant attorney general in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.

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