Anheuser-Busch InBev’s bid to buy Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo could be on the rocks.
Antitrust regulators from the Justice Department in recent weeks have been quizzing beer distributors and craft brewers about the competitive implications of the $20 billion deal, which would give A-B InBev ownership of the nation’s most popular import label: Corona. They’ve started to hear from U.S. senators concerned about the deal, too.
A Washington, D.C., antitrust trade publication reported Tuesday that the Justice Department was putting some of its top lawyers on the case, and appeared “unlikely” to let the deal go through as currently structured.
None of the principals involved would discuss the situation. A DOJ spokeswoman declined comment. A-B InBev said only that they still expect the deal to close in early 2013. But industry-watchers say the moves suggest that the Justice Department plans to push for significant changes. A-B InBev’s share price slid late Tuesday and Wednesday after the news broke.