Budweiser, Corona Sued in San Francisco
|You've been served|
Friday is a good day for beer and, today, it's a great one for lawsuits regarding beer.
Attorney Joe Alioto tells SF Weekly that, this afternoon, he'll make a federal case out of a proposed multi-billion dollar deal to merge two of the world's yellowest beers, Budweiser and Corona.
At issue is a controversial $20.1 billion offer from Belgian-owned Anheuser-Busch InBev to purchase Mexican beer giant Grupo Modelo, which produces Corona. That proposal spurred a January lawsuit from the Department of Justice -- but the beer barons are tinkering with the deal in order to win the feds' approval. Alioto, however, says there can be only one solution: "The government simply says you don't get to buy Modelo, period. Go back to Brussels."
Messages for Grupo Modelo and Anheuser-Busch InBev have not yet been returned. Somewhat amusingly, the latter directs journalists on deadline to phone its toll-free number, 1-800-DIAL-BUD.
Alioto's suit is being brought on behalf of nine plaintiffs he describes as "ordinary people" and "consumers": Steven Edstrom, Barry Ginsburg, Martin Ginsburg, Edward Lawrence, Sharon Martin, Mark M. Naeger, John Nypl, Daniel Sayle, and William Stage. He claims their legal costs will be borne by the defendants if they prevail and they'll owe him nothing if they fail.
The attorney -- and son of the former mayor -- notes that, at present, AB-InBev owns just shy of 50 percent of the domestic beer market and British-owned MillerCoors has about 30 percent. Gobbling up Modelo would give AB-InBev around 55 percent of the domestic market. More importantly, claims Alioto, it would allow AB-InBev and MillerCoors to jack up prices while diluting quality.
"Modelo has refused to go along with the price increases these guys have steadily done since InBev bought Anheuser-Busch," says the attorney. "As a result, they have to eliminate Modelo to keep raising prices at will."
Alioto says he'll file the suit by 2 p.m. today at San Francisco's federal courthouse. And, after that -- perhaps a drink?
Update: Read the suit here -- Beer lawsuit.rtf