The latest, and presumably last document, released in the ongoing City Beverage dispute before the Illinois Liquor Control Commission gives us a little more logic into the ILCC Legal Division’s stance on giving Anheuser-Busch- and its wholly owned subsidiary – the boot.
The legal division has been adamant that the “Craft Brewer Act,” passed last year, prohibits a brewer from owning a distributor. AB argues that was not the intent of the legislation and that the legal division is taking some creative freedom in how they interpret The Act.
In this most recent document, released Wednesday, the Legal Division takes note of Anheuser-Busch’s not-so-secret end game of owning multiple distributors in Illinois and that allowing them to even retain a minority interest in City Beverage would open a Pandora’s box.
The Legal Division is essentially saying that if Anheuser-Busch is allowed to retain its minority interest it won’t stop there. The brewing giant will attempt to gain 100-percent control over City Beverage and then, potentially, go after other AB distributors in Illinois. All of which, according to the Legal Division, is against the law.
Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.
If you recall, the Illinois Liquor Control Commission cited Anheuser-Busch and the aforementioned wholly owned subsidiary, Wholesaler Equity Development Corporation or WEDCO, for violating the Illinois Liquor Control Act over the summer. The Legal Division, in the citation, noted that a brewer cannot own a distributor in Illinois – therefore AB must divest its 30-percent stake in City Beverage.
City consists of four wholesalers in Illinois; Arlington Heights, Chicago, Markham and downstate Bloomington.
The commission, as far as we know, remains on track to reach a decision on AB, WEDCO and City Beverage next week.