Terms of $20 billion beer merger settlement made public

The Justice Department, which had initially sought to block the $20.1 billion transaction in an effort to keep beer prices in check, released the 318-page settlement agreement, set to be published in Wednesday’s Federal Register.

The agency’s antitrust division’s concerns about Anheuser-Busch InBev’s acquisition of Grupo Modelo centered on a belief that the deal would reduce competition between brands and drive up costs to the drinking public.

Anheuser Busch and Modelo are the first and third largest brewers of beer sold in the United States, respectively. The U.S. beer market totals roughly $80 billion. 

Under the settlement announced last month, the companies would be required to divest Modelo’s entire U.S. business to Constellation Brands Inc. in order to move ahead with the merger. That would mean shedding licenses of Modelo brand beers, its most advanced brewery, its interest in Crown Imports LLC and other assets, according to the Justice Department.

The licenses to be transferred to Constellation include all seven brands that Modelo currently offers in the U.S. — Corona Extra, Corona Light, Modelo Especial, Negra Modelo, Modelo Light, Pacifico and Victoria. They also include three brands not yet offered in the U.S., but currently sold by Modelo in Mexico – Pacifico Light, Barrilito and León.

Beginning Wednesday, interested parties will have 60 days to weigh in on the settlement. Following the public comment period, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia could sign off on the deal.