Belfast Telegraph

EC approves AB InBev's £71bn takeover of SABMiller

The European Commission has approved AB InBev's £71 billion takeover of SABMiller on the condition that "practically the entire SABMiller beer business in Europe" is sold off.

SABMiller said clearance from the antitrust watchdog represents a "significant milestone for the deal" and paves the way for completion in the second half of the year.

AB InBev, the world's largest brewer, has already moved to sell SABMiller's Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime brands to Japanese firm Asahi. It has also signalled its intent to sell SABMiller's businesses in central and eastern Europe.

The regulator had raised concerns that the deal would hurt competition and result in higher prices for drinkers in several countries including Italy, the Netherlands, the UK, Romania and Hungary.

Margrethe Vestager, head of competition policy at the European Commission, said: "Today's decision will ensure that competition is not weakened in these markets and that EU consumers are not worse off.

"Europeans buy around 125 billion euros of beer every year, so even a relatively small price increase could cause considerable harm to consumers. It was therefore very important to ensure that AB InBev's takeover of SABMiller did not reduce competition on European beer markets."

The mega-merger marks the largest takeover of a UK-based firm as well as the fourth biggest in global corporate history.

SABMiller employs around 69,000 people in more than 80 countries and has global annual sales of more than 26 billion US dollars (£18 billion).