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Proposed Budweiser-Miller-Coors 'Beerhemoth' Draws Senate Scrutiny

Lee is promising a full review of the proposed beer merger. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A proposed mega beer merger has the Senate's attention.  

The chairman and ranking member of the Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights Senate Judiciary Subcommittee are pledging to review any final agreement for the acquisition of SABMiller by Anheuser-Busch InBev. It's a merger that would bring together brands such as Budweiser, Miller and Coors.  

"In addition to the thorough review I expect this deal to receive from the agencies, should the parties reach a final agreement, the Antitrust Subcommittee will also be looking closely into how the merger may affect consumers and the marketplace," Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel said in a statement.  

A report from The Economist called the proposed combined company the "beerhemoth."  

"The proposed acquisition of SABMiller by Anheuser-Busch Inbev announced today, if consummated, would rank among the five largest mergers in history and consolidate approximately 70 percent of the U.S. beer market," Lee said. "A deal of this size and scope demands close scrutiny of its impact on competition."  

Wisconsin Public Radio reported  Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., is already raising doubts about the size of the company.  

"I think it's probably too big, and in the end you'll see, if it goes forward, the necessity for both of these large organizations to spin off some of their brands," Baldwin told reporters in Wisconsin. "What I care most deeply about is that we are still brewing a lot of beer in the state of Wisconsin — that Miller remains, that Leinenkugel remains."  

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar from neighboring Minnesota is Lee's counterpart on the judiciary subcommittee.  

"The merger could have negative consequences for consumers, including increased cost, and could deprive our thriving craft and independent brewers of distribution channels critical for reaching retail customers. The Antitrust Subcommittee must provide oversight and examine this deal closely," she said in a statement.

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