AB Sues Illinois

Anheuser-Busch sues Illinois over bid to buy wholesaler

Anheuser-Busch InBev has sued an Illinois state regulator for blocking its attempt to distributor.

The lawsuit followed Wednesday’s ruling by the Illinois Liquor Control Commission that Anheuser was a “nonresident dealer,” making it ineligible under state law to also operate as a distributor.

Anheuser had sought through its Wholesaler Equity Development Corp affiliate to buy the 70 percent of City Beverage it did not already own, for what it called a “substantial amount of money.” The seller is Soave Enterprises, a privately held, Detroit-based company with holdings in dozens of companies. Anheuser has owned 30 percent of City Beverage since 2005.

The commission had in its Wednesday ruling defended the system, which it said achieves the public policy objectives of avoiding potential vertical monopolies and limiting the risk that cheap alcohol could flood the market.

Anheuser’s lawsuit seeks to block the Illinois commission from improperly interfering with the City Beverage acquisition and denying appropriate distributor licenses.