InBev leader: A-B takeover to go through by end of year

Saturday, August 23, 2008

BRASILIA, Brazil — The head of Belgian-Brazilian brewer InBev SA said Friday he's confident his company's takeover of Anheuser-Busch will be cleared by U.S. regulators by the end of the year.

Chief executive Carlos Brito said the maker of Stella Artois, Beck's and Bass has long admired the Anheuser-Busch brand, known for brews such as Budweiser and Bud Light.

St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. announced last month it had agreed to be sold to InBev in a deal worth $52 billion. The deal ended months of wrangling between Anheuser-Busch's founding family and InBev.

"It is a transaction that was negotiated," Brito told reporters after meeting with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. "It was agreed upon. It was friendly. We already knew the leaders of this company for many years. We admire the brand that they built and we saw a large potential for this brand in many countries."

Brito, who is Brazilian, has said he hopes to make Bud Light into a global icon, like Coca-Cola. The deal for the U.S.'s largest brewer — with about half the market — must pass federal regulators.

On Monday, InBev said the U.S. Department of Justice was seeking additional information about the deal and it would respond quickly.

Both companies have said they expect the deal to close by the end of the year.

Brito, known for cost-cutting, didn't give specifics when asked about changes he would make to save money with the new business, to be called Anheuser-Busch-InBev NV SA. But he said the company looked forward to using its larger size to save on costs.

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