Beer drinkers in the U.S. file lawsuit to block the merger of AB InBev, SABMiller

A group of beer drinkers in the U.S. are trying to stop the merger between AB InBev and SABMiller, two of the world’s largest beer companies.

The group which number 23 filed a lawsuit against AB InBev over its $108bn deal to acquire SABMiller, claiming the merger would result in higher beer prices, lower beer quality and erosion of consumer choice as well as creating a monopoly in violation of U.S. anti-competition law.

The individuals have no connection to the beer industry and are not seeking money. They merely want to “permanently prohibit the proposed acquisition by AB InBev,” according to the lawsuit. The individuals all say they have purchased products made by both companies, in addition to craft beers.

The group, who mostly reside in the states of Oregon, 19; California, 3; and Washington state, 1; say that AB InBev makes more than $100bn a year in Oregon, where the lawsuit was filed in Federal court. They argue that the state is one of the largest craft beer producers in the world and will be “significantly impacted” by the merger.

As part of the merger, AB InBev is expected to sell-off SABMiller’s U.S. brewery interest in MillerCoors division and the Miller Global brand business to Molson Coors, SABMiller’s former joint-venture partner.

AB InBev’s lawyer responded to the lawsuit by saying the claims “are without merit.”

“We intend to vigorously defend against them. The U.S. beer market has never been more competitive with strong growth from craft brewers, and nothing in this transaction will change that fact,” John Blood, Vice President of Legal and Corporate Affairs for the company said in a statement.

He added, the deal provides an opportunity to extend his company’s reach to markets outside the U.S.

Bloomberg News reported that lawyer, Joseph Alioto, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the beer drinkers had filed and lost a similar suit in 2013 to stop AB InBev’s $20bn acquisition of Grupo Modelo SAB over similar claims. And five years earlier, he had sued to block InBev’s acquisition of Anheuser-Busch, but failed.

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