US challenges $25b deal to merge Budweiser and Corona

WASHINGTON (AP) - The US Justice Department is challenging Anheuser-Busch InBev's (ABI) proposed US$20.1 billion (S$24.7 billion) purchase of Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo, which would unite the ownership of popular beers like Budweiser and Corona.

The government said the deal would substantially reduce competition in the US beer market, particularly in 26 metropolitan areas.

Americans spent at least US$80 billion on beer last year. ABI's Bud Light is the best-selling beer in the nation and Modelo's Corona Extra is the best-selling import.

The Justice Department's lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C., seeks to prevent the merger and to continue competition between the firms.

Mr Bill Baer, the assistant attorney-general for the department's antitrust division, said ABI would be able to increase beer prices to US consumers if the merger were to go through.