China approves US-Belgian beer merger
AP - Wednesday, November 19
BEIJING - Beijing agreed Tuesday to Belgium-based InBev SA's takeover of Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc.'s Chinese operations as part of their global merger but limited future acquisitions on anti-monopoly grounds.
The tie-up is part of InBev's $52 billion purchase of Anheuser-Busch, which was approved Friday by the U.S. Justice Department.
The China portion of the merger was the highest-profile acquisition approved since a new Chinese anti-monopoly law took effect in August.
The Commerce Ministry said it concluded the merger would not reduce competition in China's fast-growing beer market. But it said the companies were barred from increasing existing stakes in Chinese brewers to preserve competition.
Global brewers are eager to expand in China. Following a string of acquisitions of Chinese brands in the 1990s, Anheuser-Busch and other brewers have spent heavily to build market share.
The Commerce Ministry said Anheuser-Busch is barred from increasing its 27 percent stake in the Tsingtao Beer Ltd. InBev is barred from adding to its 28.5 percent stake in Zhujiang Beer Ltd.
The companies are barred from linking up with two leading Chinese breweries, Huarun Snow Beer Ltd. and Beijing Yanjing Beer Ltd., the ministry said.
The U.S. Justice Department agreed to InBev's purchase of Anheuser-Busch on condition the Belgian brewer sell its Labatt USA brand to reduce its market dominance.
On the Net:
Chinese Commerce Ministry (in Chinese): http://www.mofcom.gov.cn
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