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Anheuser-Busch revives acquisition plan

Regulators are leery of an AB InBev-Modelo deal because the two companies account for 46 percent of US beer sales.

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Regulators are leery of an AB InBev-Modelo deal because the two companies account for 46 percent of US beer sales.

NEW YORK — Anheuser-Busch InBev changed the terms of its proposed $20.1 billion acquisition of Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo Thursday in an attempt to push through a deal that federal regulators say will kill competition.

AB InBev is willing to sell Modelo’s Piedras Negras brewery and give perpetual rights for Corona and the Modelo brands in the US to Constellation for $2.9 billion, the company said Thursday. The brewery, which currently makes Corona, Corona Light and Modelo Especial, will give Constellation total control over the production of Corona and Modelo in the US

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Under previous terms of the complicated deal, Modelo would sell its half of Crown Imports to wine maker Constellation Brands Inc.to address antitrust concerns, but InBev maintained the right to end an import agreement with Crown Imports, and that was to be exercisable every 10 years.

Regulators are leery of the tie-up because AB InBev and Modelo control about 46 percent of annual US sales.

Justice Department spokeswoman Gina Talamona said in a statement that the department can’t comment on a specific proposal, but it would give any proposal serious consideration and at the same time would continue to prepare for litigation.

Last month the Justice Department filed a lawsuit to block the deal, saying that one company controlling nearly half of all US beer sales would stifle competition and increase prices.

On Thursday, AB Inbev said the sale of the brewery which supplies the domestic market would give Crown total control over supply.

‘‘We believe this revised agreement addresses all of the concerns raised by the US Department of Justice in its lawsuit, leaving no doubt about Constellation’s Crown beer division’s complete independence and ability to compete,’’ InBev said in a statement released Thursday.

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