Distell drags AB InBev off to Competition Tribunal
Listed beverages company accuses the world’s largest brewer of breaching conditions of a 2016 merger with SABMiller
Listed beverage company Distell has hauled the world’s largest brewer, AB InBev, and SABMiller before the Competition Tribunal for allegedly breaching conditions for the 2016 merger between the two companies.
The tribunal, which is scheduled to hear the matter on Thursday, conditionally approved the merger between AB InBev and SABMiller in June 2016.
Distell — owner of the Amarula, Savanna and Hunter’s Dry brands — had participated in the hearing at the time and made substantial submissions about conditions that were ultimately imposed on the merger.
The tribunal said the Stellenbosch-based Distell recently approached the Competition Commission on the alleged breach of conditions alleging, among others, that the merged entity removed competitors’ advertising material from outlets.
The commission found that the conditions had not been breached.
“Distell is now asking the tribunal to review and set aside the commission’s finding and for a full investigation to be conducted. In the event that the tribunal does not find that the conditions were breached, Distell is asking that the tribunal provides guidance on the proper interpretation of the conditions,” the tribunal said.
The tribunal said SABMiller had argued that Distell’s complaint is an attempt to restrict competition and is unrelated to the merger conditions.
“The company says that the complaints have no merit and should be dismissed,” it said.
In December 2016, AB InBev sold its 26.4% interest in Distell to the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), as part of the conditions for the approval of the merger with SABMiller.
As part of the conditions in SA, AB InBev — owner of Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois — agreed to create a R1bn fund that will support the SA beer industry.
Other than SA, the 2016 merger had to pass competition hurdles in a number of jurisdictions such as the EU, Australia, India, Botswana, Kenya, Chile and Mexico.