DOJ Closes Investigation of ABI’s Devils Backbone Acquisition

After a four month inquiry, the Department of Justice has concluded its investigation of the Anheuser Busch InBev’s acquisition of Devils Backbone Brewing Company.

The DOJ stated in a press release that “after careful consideration, the division has determined that, in light of the distribution relief secured in the ABI/SABMiller settlement, the competitive implications of ABI’s acquisition of Devils Backbone are too uncertain at this time to warrant further investigation.”  The “distribution relief” referred to is the 10% cap that the DOJ placed on the volume of AB sales that the company can sell through AB-owned wholesalers. This will limit the number of wholesalers that ABI will be able to aquire in the future. Current ABI volume sold through their owned distributors is about 7%.

It appears that ABI may not be out from under the microscope however. The statement went on to say that “the division will be carefully monitoring ABI’s compliance with its distribution obligations under this settlement.  The division will also carefully scrutinize any future craft acquisitions by ABI.  The ABI/SABMiller settlement provides the division the opportunity to review certain of ABI’s future craft acquisitions – including acquisitions that may fall below the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act’s reporting thresholds.”