Big Beer CEOs To Testify In Front Of Congress On The Awesomeness Of Mega-Merger Tuesday

There are billions of reasons (or rather dollars) for the executives for Anheuser-Busch InBev, SABMiller and Molson Coors Brewing Co. to prove that a mega-beer merger is a brilliant plan, and now it looks like they’ll have their chance to opine on its greatness by testifying in front of Congress tomorrow. 

USA Today reports that InBev chief Carlos Brito, Molson Coors CEO Mark Hunter and other industry officials will testify about the proposed merger’s affect on competition and consumers before a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday.

Brito, Hunter and others will try to ease concerns about the mega-merger, which includes the sale of SABMiller’s stake in the MillerCoors brand to Molson Coors for $12 billion.

Marianne Amssoms, InBev’s vice president of global communications, tells USA Today that the hearing offers an opportunity to discuss the “highly competitive” U.S. beer market and how the merger would extend the reach of InBev’s brands into foreign markets.

It’s estimated that the deal would give InBev a much larger foothold in Africa.

“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,” Amssoms said in a statement.

Despite InBev’s claims, antitrust experts have expressed concerns over the merger ever since the rumblings of the deal first made waves in the fall, noting that most plausible scenarios would spell higher prices, fewer choices, and a harder life for smaller craft brewers.

Last month InBev attempted to squash those concerns when it announced a finalized deal outlining plans for SABMiller to sell its 58% stake in MillerCoors to its joint-venture partner Molson Coors Brewing, which already owns 42% of the brand, for $12 billion.

That hasn’t exactly stopped any apprehensiveness about the deal. On Friday, nearly two dozen beer drinkers sued InBev to stop the deal, claiming it would force them to pay more for a lower quality product.

Additionally, several lawmakers have asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate the merger’s impact on craft brewers, specifically whether or not the deal would push them out of the beer market.

“Large multinational brewers should not be allowed to use their market power to limit consumer choice and access to small innovative breweries,” Delaware Senator Chris Coons and Sens. Angus King, of Maine, Jeff Merkley, of Oregon, Susan Collins, of Maine, and Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut, wrote in a letter to Lynch. “Put simply, we believe craft brewers must be able to conduct their business without being denied access to necessary raw materials and distribution companies.”

Lawmakers to probe proposed beer merger [USA Today]