Beer Fight: US, AB InBev in Talks Over $20 Billion Deal
The U.S. Justice Department and Anheuser-Busch InBev, embroiled in a court fight over whether AB InBev can expand its stake in Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo, asked a court on Wednesday for a short delay, according to a court filing.
The two sides requested a limited stay that would end on March 19.
AB InBev, the world's largest brewer, plans to buy the 50 percent of Modelo it does not already own. But in a nod to antitrust concerns, it plans to sell its 50 percent share of Modelo's U.S. distributor, Crown Imports, to Constellation Brands, the world's largest wine company.
The Justice Department said that proposed outcome was inadequate and filed a lawsuit to stop the transaction.
In hopes of salvaging the deal, AB InBev said last week that it was willing to sell Modelo's Piedras Negras brewery in Mexico, near the U.S border, to Constellation and grant it perpetual rights for Corona and other Modelo brands in the United States, at a cost of $2.9 billion.
A delay in the court proceedings would give the Justice Department's Antitrust Division time to assess the AB InBev offer to see if it resolves the government's concerns, the filing said.
"The parties agree that a stay of litigation proceedings until March 19, 2013 would be beneficial to the parties," they said in the motion requesting the stay.
The three companies noted the request for a short delay in a joint statement and said they were in talks with the Justice Department. "There can be no assurance that the discussions will be successful," they said.