Anheuser-Busch InBev closer to settlement in Modelo deal

Anheuser-Busch InBev has reached a tentative agreement with the Department of Justice over its disputed $20.1 billion acquisition of Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo.

The world’s largest brewer has been trying since June to buy the half of Grupo Modelo that it doesn’t already own. The Justice Department sued to block the deal on concerns that it would stifle competition in the U.S.

In an effort to appease regulators, AB InBev subsequently struck a side deal that gives control of the production of Corona and other Modelo beers sold in the U.S. to smaller competitor Constellation Brands Inc.

The companies involved in the complicated series of deals have since been in talks with the Department of Justice about a possible resolution.

AB InBev, Grupo Modelo and Constellation said Friday that the proposed resolution is in line with the revised deal.

The companies and the Department of Justice are asking the court to extend a stay of proceedings until April 23 to finalize the details necessary for a settlement.

The Department of Justice, in confirming the agreement in principle Friday, reiterated that any settlement would have to fully protect U.S. consumers by preserving the competition that Grupo Modelo currently provides, while giving a buyer of the divestiture the freedom and capability to compete vigorously in the future.

U.S.-traded shares of AB InBev fell $1.95 to close at $97.60 and slipped another 4 cents in after-hours trading. Constellation Brand shares jumped nearly 3 percent to $49.18 after hours on the news.

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