Anheuser-Busch InBev got the thumbs up from European regulators to proceed with its $107 billion acquisition of SABMiller. The decision was not unexpected after ABInBev shed numerous brands to satisfy regulators antitrust concerns.
U.S. regulators are continuing to review the merger and a decision was said to be expected soon. But that soon may be later as it was announced today that the Department of Justice is reportedly questioning AB’s notorious wholesaler incentive policies that reward distributors who shed non-Ab brands. According to Reuters, U.S. antitrust officials are investigating the incentive plan that AB launched late last year that incentivizes their independent distributors to maintain a portfolio of 98% or more of AB brands. The incentive plan reportedly reimburses distributors for 75% of their advertising costs on ABI products if the distributor meets that 98% threshold. Reuters’ sources said the arrangement appears designed to dramatically decrease craft beer as part of the wholesalers brand portfolio.