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InBev says it has closed Anheuser Busch takeover

BRUSSELS, Belgium – InBev SA on Tuesday formed the world’s largest brewer when it closed its $52 billion (euro41 billion) takeover of Anheuser-Busch Cos.

The new company, named Anheuser-Busch InBev, will be headed by InBev CEO Carlos Brito and will be headquartered at Leuven, Belgium.

InBev promises to keep Anheuser-Busch’s St. Louis base as the company’s North American headquarters. Anheuser-Busch President and CEO August A. Busch IV joins the new company’s board as a non-executive director.

The deal gives InBev a jewel of a brand in Budweiser — the world’s top selling beer — which it promises to sell more widely by pushing into emerging economies in Asia, Latin America and eastern Europe.

This will help generate growth as beer sales decline in North America and Europe where drinkers are cutting back and turning to wine and other drinks.

Brito said the combination had created “a stronger, more competitive global company with a leading international brand portfolio and distribution network, and great potential for growth all over the world.”

InBev said it now had all the regulatory clearances it needed for the deal. Last week it agreed to sell Labatts USA to win U.S. Department of Justice approval for the takeover.

U.S. antitrust officials had worried that beer prices would increase in upstate New York because the two companies would supply most of the beer in the region.

InBev did not say who it would buy the U.S. unit. It will keep its Canadian subsidiary Labatts, which is one of the top beer brands in the country.

Anheuser-Busch provides half of America’s beer but it has not managed to expand around the world as fast as InBev — a Belgian-Brazilian hybrid that owns hundreds of local brands but few real stars.

InBev has borrowed $45 billion to pay for the deal and secured $9.8 billion in equity bridge financing that it had planned to replace with a share issue in October.

But rocky financial markets forced it to postpone issuing new shares and it says it can keep the bridge financing in place for up to six months after it closes the deal.

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