Belgium brewer AB InBev (merger of Anheuser-Busch and InBev) has agreed to forfeit about 4.5 billion dollars worth of assets in order to complete a 20 billion dollar takeover of Grupo Modelo, a large Mexican based brewer.
The key argument that Justice Department lawyers used to hold up the merger? Competition. They argued that such an acquisition would be anti-competitive because AB InBev could then jack up prices on both Corona and Budweiser.
Beer is not a natural monopoly. And the US domestic beer market is undergoing a change in which the large dominant brands (Budweiser and its sub-brands, Coors, Miller) are facing increasing competition with smaller breweries and microbreweries.
You guys might shrug your shoulders and say "whatever", but these are real issues for the companies and investors involved in these deals. When the Justice Department or any various Federal regulatory agency can block the sale of assets from one company to another, it represents a very real problem for the economy. It's one of the reasons why this economic recovery has been so incredibly weak.
We've seen Justice and the FCC block AT&T's offer for T-Mobile. The NLRB blocked an expansion of Boeing's factories in South Carolina. The EPA is still stalling the Keystone XL pipeline project.
Collectively, these actions have become a drag on the economy. And it's one of the key reasons why many CEOs, investors, and small business owners say that the Obama Administration has been very unfriendly towards business.