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Australia clears AB Inbev's $100 billion SABMiller buyout plan

Reuters Reuters 5/05/2016

The InBev logo is pictured outside brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev's headquarters in Leuven© REUTERS/Eric Vidal The InBev logo is pictured outside brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev's headquarters in Leuven Australia's antitrust regulator on Thursday cleared beer giant Anheuser Busch Inbev SA's planned $100 billion takeover of rival SABMiller Plc, saying the deal would not adversely affect the domestic market.

"The ACCC considers that the proposed acquisition is unlikely to result in higher beer prices for consumers," Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.

The deal would not hurt competition in Australia because AB Inbev sold its beers in Australia only via distributors, "has only a limited direct company presence in Australia and does not brew beer here," the ACCC said.

The green light from Australia removes another potential antitrust obstacle to the world's No. 1 beer company's deal to buy its nearest rival, one of the biggest corporate takeovers on record. AB Inbev has said it expects to complete the purchase by the end of 2016, but still has to secure antitrust clearance in Europe, where both it and its target are headquartered.

AB Inbev is the No. 2 beer supplier in Australia, behind Lion Nathan, owned by Japan's Kirin Holdings Co Ltd.

The ACCC said AB Inbev has until now had its beers, which include Corona, distributed in Australia by Lion Nathan. It has agreed to distribute the product itself to ease regulatory concerns that the companies may coordinate market activity, the ACCC said.

The European Commission has said it will give its verdict on the deal on May 24. AB Inbev has already offered to sell SABMiller's Grolsch and Peroni brands to address its potential concerns.

In April, AB Inbev agreed to delay any layoffs by five years and invest 1 billion rand ($67 million) to support South African farmers to secure regulatory approval for the deal in South Africa.

(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Stephen Coates and Kenneth Maxwell)

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