William E. Berlin Appointed Monitoring Trustee for Anheuser-Busch InBev/Grupo Modelo Antitrust Settlement Settlement resolves antitrust lawsuit challenging merger of first and third largest US beer producers
WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- William E. Berlin, a principal in Ober|Kaler's Antitrust and Competition Group, has been appointed by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), and approved by a federal judge, as Monitoring Trustee in United States v. Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV, et al. As Monitoring Trustee, Berlin will oversee the parties' compliance with the settlement terms set forth in the court's final judgment, filed on October 24, 2013.
Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) is the largest brewer and marketer of beer sold in the US. It owns more than 200 different beer brands, including Bud Light, Budweiser, Busch, Michelob, Natural Light, Stella Artois and Beck's. Prior to the merger, Modelo, headquartered in Mexico City, was the third-largest brewer of beer sold in the United States, including Corona Extra. The DOJ's Antitrust Division filed a lawsuit in January, 2013, alleging that ABI's $20.1 billion acquisition of the remaining interest in Modelo's worldwide business would substantially lessen competition and increase prices in the US beer market. Under the terms of the settlement, Modelo's entire US business, including a brewery located in Mexico, was sold to Constellation Brands, Inc., effectively creating an independent, fully-integrated and economically viable competitor to ABI. Constellation is a beer, wine and spirits company headquartered in New York, with a portfolio of more than 100 products, including Robert Mondavi and Ruffino wines.
As Monitoring Trustee, Berlin, assisted by a team of Ober|Kaler attorneys and outside expert consultants, will ensure that ABI and Constellation comply with all of their obligations under the proposed settlement over a three-year period. Specifically, the Monitoring Trustee team will oversee ABI's compliance with the settlement terms requiring it to supply enough beer to Constellation so it can meet US demand until Constellation is able to expand production at the Mexico brewery, and to supply beer ingredients and packaging to Constellation until the company procures its own supply.
In addition, the Monitoring Team will monitor the construction by Constellation necessary to expand the brewery as required by the court's final judgment. A unique aspect of the final judgment is that it added Constellation as a defendant, even though the company was not one of the merging parties, in order to monitor the brewery construction milestones. John Wolf, Ober|Kaler's Chair and a principal in its Construction Group, will provide expertise to this aspect of the Monitoring Trustee's responsibilities.
"I'm honored to have been selected as Monitoring Trustee, and confident that our team will capably monitor the defendants' varied obligations in a number of substantive areas, including antitrust, construction and manufacturing issues," Berlin said. "I'm also confident this process will go smoothly given ABI's and Constellation's cooperation so far."
Ober|Kaler is a national law firm providing integrated regulatory, transactional and litigation services to financial, health care, construction and other business organizations. The firm has more than 130 attorneys, and offices in Baltimore, Washington, DC and Falls Church. For more information please visit www.ober.com.