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The US Justice Department said the suit "seeks to prevent the companies from merging and to preserve the existing head-to-head competition between the firms that the transaction would eliminate."
"If ABI fully owned and controlled Modelo, ABI would be able to increase beer prices to American consumers," said assistant attorney general Bill Baer, who heads the Justice Department's anti-trust division.
"This lawsuit seeks to prevent ABI from eliminating Modelo as an important competitive force in the beer industry."
The Justice Department said that ABI and Modelo control together about 46 percent of annual beer sales in the United States.