The Odd Twists and Turns that Will Keep Anheuser-Busch and Miller Separate Despite Their Merger

By Mike Pomranz |

© Grant Faint / Getty

Probably the biggest irony of Anheuser-Busch InBev’s proposed merger with SABMiller was that it would bring together America’s best-known beer rivals: Anheuser-Busch and Miller. Over the past three-plus decades, few brands have fought over turf as much as Bud Light and Miller Lite. So though discussing giant beer mergers can easily devolve into business minutia, one noteworthy and easy to grasp part of the final plan is that, due to some corporate finagling, Miller and Bud will actually not end up as part of the same company.

How does a buyout of SABMiller, not give A-B InBev the brand Miller? Well, the key is a joint venture between SABMiller and Molson Coors called MillerCoors – launched in 2008 to help the two slightly smaller beer behemoths compete against the biggest brewer of all, Anheuser-Busch InBev. When A-B InBev announced their plans to go after SABMiller, it created the bizarre possibility that America’s top three beer brands – Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors – could all be jointly tied together. However, US regulators don’t call things like that “bizarre;” they call them possible monopolies. So for the deal to go through, it appeared some brands would have to be split apart. Since SABMiller already has an agreement with MillerCoors, selling off the Miller side of MillerCoors to Molson Coors seems like the easiest route.

Are we having fun, yet? Who wants to play some InBev v. Molson Coors beer pong?!

The result is that the Bud Light versus Miller Lite battle will continue rage on. Though the family tree gets a bit complicated, as A-B-InBev-SABMiller (we’re just going to call it ABIBSABM) will now have to compete against Miller in the U.S. Talk about family infighting: It’s like SABMiller remarried, but Miller was afraid of his new step-father so a judge ruled he could go live with his close family friend who shacked up with a Canadian in Denver.

I think I’ll just drink a beer from Golden Road. Oh wait. That’s A-B InBev’s latest concubine. Check, please!

[h/t CBS News]

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