The legislation was introduced in response to an Illinois Liquor Control Commission decision last fall to allow AB to retain a 30-percent interest in the wholesaler. The Commission’s decision ended a years-long legal bout over whether a brewer could own a distributor in Illinois. Although the Commission, in rendering its decision, challenged the legislature to address the issue of distributor ownership head on this legislative session.
The legislation lost a bit of its gusto earlier this week, however, when Anheuser Busch publicly conceded to selling its interest in City Beverage – held through the wholly owned subsidiary Wholesaler Equity Development Corporation – by 2015, as the proposed legislation directs.
“Anheuser-Busch is pleased with the agreement reached with the Illinois legislature as it relates to our minority investment in City Beverage, granting the company the ability to divest our interests by January 1, 2015,” said Mark Bordas, AB’s Region Vice President of State Affairs.
GuysDrinkingBeer was the first to report the development Wednesday afternoon.
The investment firm BDT Capital owns the remaining 70 percent of the wholesaler, which consists of four locations: Arlington Heights, Bloomington, Chicago and Markham.
The bill, HB 2606, advances to the Illinois Senate.