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SABMiller and AB Inbev Merger Casts Global Shadow

the SABMiller and AB Inbev merger casts chains around the worldCall it Newbelco, call it the Beerhemoth, call it the biggest beer company the world has ever known—whatever you call it, the new megabrewer that formed on October 11, 2016, from the merger of AB Inbev and SABMiller will be a dominating source of global alcohol harm. AB Inbev and SABMiller were already the two largest beer producers in the world; together, they will represent annual sales of $55 billion or more. The post-merger transnational company now called Newbelco will be responsible for one in three beers sold worldwide.

As befits a global company, the threats from the merger to public health and governance are global in scale:

Writing in the British Medical Journal, Dr. Jeff Collin and colleagues of the University of Edinburgh note the strategic similarities between Newbelco and the tobacco industries. The survival of transnational tobacco companies like Altria and British American Tobacco hinges on exploiting regulatory gaps in the developing world to generate millions of new customers. (The guidelines for these strategies should already be familiar to Newbelco, since Altria Group will itself own a 10% share of the megabrewer.) Although international development guidelines forbid collaboration with tobacco companies, no such stipulation exists for the alcohol industry. Dr. Collin urges quick action to close that loophole and proactively confront Newbelco and other alcohol companies looking to flood emerging markets.

Whether or not the international health community reigns Newbelco in, the colossus may already have it's next move planned. Industry experts speculate the company may soon attempt to acquire sugared-beverage manufacturer Coca-Cola. After all, in a world where obesity, alcohol, and tobacco are among the most frequent causes of death from non-communicable disease, why shouldn't Newbelco-Altria-Coca-Cola profit from all three?


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