Gateway Gazette

Competition Bureau Will Not Oppose Global Beer Mergers

The Competition Bureau announced that it will not oppose two proposed transactions that will ultimately lead to Labbat’s parent company Anheuser‑Busch InBev SA/NV (AB InBev) acquiring the Foster’s Lager and Castle Lager brands in Canada, and Molson Coors acquiring the rights to various Miller brands, including Miller Genuine Draft and Miller Lite.

In November 2015, global brewer AB InBev, which owns Labatt, announced its plans to acquire the global interests of SABMiller plc (SABMiller). AB InBev also announced its intention to subsequently sell to Molson Coors Brewing Company (Molson Coors) the rights to certain Miller brands in Canada and globally, excluding the US.

The Bureau concluded that the proposed acquisition of SABMiller by AB InBev with the immediate divesture of certain Miller brands to Molson Coors were not likely to substantially lessen or prevent competition in any relevant market in Canada. Consequently, a No‑Action Letter was issued to the parties.

Under the Competition Act, the Bureau has a mandate to review mergers to determine whether they are likely to result in a substantial lessening or prevention of competition. In reviewing mergers, the Bureau considers many different elements, including the impact of the proposed transaction on the level of economic concentration in the relevant industry.

Quick Facts

  • Labatt (owned by Ambev S.A., which is an affiliate of AB InBev) and Molson Coors are the two largest brewers in Canada. Brands managed by Labatt include Budweiser, Labatt Blue, Stella Artois, Corona and Alexander Keith’s, while Molson Coors brands include Coors Light, Molson Canadian, and the Rickard’s family of brands.
  • The No Action Letter (NAL) confirms that the Bureau will not, at this time, challenge the proposed transactions before the Competition Tribunal under the merger provisions of the Competition Act.

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