Justice Department to allow AB Inbev-Modelo merger

The Department of Justice Friday said it had approved the merger between Anheuser-Busch InBev and Grupo Modelo following a settlement that resolves anti-competitiveness concerns.

Under the proposed settlement, the companies must divest Modelo's entire US business, including the licenses of Corona beer and other beer products, to Constellation Brands.

The settlement aims to enable Constellation to emerge as an "independent, fully integrated and economically viable competitor to AB InBev," said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the department's antitrust division.

Under the proposed settlement, which must be approved by a federal court, Constellation would acquire from Modelo a brewery, licenses to Modelo brand beers in the US for distribution and sale and Modelo's interest in the Crown joint venture, which markets and sells certain Modelo beers in the US.

The Justice Department said the agreement will ensure that US beer drinkers benefit from a competitive market.

"This is a win for the $80 billion U.S. beer market and consumers," Baer said. "If this settlement makes just a one percent difference in prices, U.S. consumers will save almost $1 billion a year."

ABInBev, Grupo Modelo and Constellation "intend to move swiftly to complete the pending transactions" once they are approved by the court, said an AB InBev statement Friday.

AB InBev said it expects the transaction to close in June 2013.