8th Circuit Stifles Beer Drinkers’ Last Gasp

ST. LOUIS (CN) – Calling a complaint by 10 Missouri beer drinkers “speculative and localized,” the 8th Circuit ended their quest to block InBev’s $52 billion takeover of Anheuser-Busch. The beer drinkers claimed the merger would diminish competition and raise prices. But the 8th Circuit found that allowing the case to proceed would have the same effect.

A three-judge panel on the 8th Circuit upheld a federal judge’s August 2009 decision to throw out the case.

Writing for the panel, Judge James Loken wrote, “any antitrust injury plaintiffs could prove would be both speculative and localized.”

“By contrast, the hardship and competitive disadvantage resulting from forced divestiture would be both dramatic and certain. InBev acquired A-B for $52 billion nearly two years ago and has combined the assets and operations of the two very large firms. While the price benefit beer drinkers would gain from divestiture is unclear, a court decree splitting up the combined entities would impose obvious hardship on the employees and distributors of former A-B and might well damage competition and consumers by crippling the operations of the largest domestic producer of immensely popular products.”

InBev completed its takeover of Anheuser-Busch in November 2008. Federal regulators had some antitrust concerns, but signed off on the deal after a few concessions.

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