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Soave Enterprises close to selling Chicago-area distributorships to Anheuser-Busch InBev


Crain’s Detroit Business has learned Detroit-based Soave Enterprises Inc. is close to selling its 70 percent interest in its Anheuser-Busch distributorships in the Chicago area to Anheuser-Busch InBev N.V./S.A., which already owns the remaining 30 percent.

The distributorships, branded as City Beverage-Illinois, primarily serve Chicago’s South Loop and surrounding suburbs. City Beverage-Illinois distributes more than 19 million cases of Anheuser-Busch, Inbev, Crown, Guinness, Gambrinus and other brands in the market. It is one of the largest Anheuser-Busch distributors in the country.

The transaction is expected to close next year.

Since Anheuser-Busch was acquired by Belgium-based InBev in November 2008 to create Anheuser-Busch InBev, the company has said it was interested in bringing its distributorships under company ownership, a business model which is typical for its other brands.

Large U.S. brewers have been challenged in the current economy and Anheuser-Busch InBev is reported to have suffered sales losses in most of its major markets with the exception of Chicago. Crain’s Chicago Business reported last summer that AB InBev was steadily acquiring Chicago-area distributorships and was looking to buy more. The market, according to Crain’s Chicago, is the largest where Budweiser is not the best-selling beer.

Soave sold another beer distributorship, Kalamazoo Beer Distributing, this fall to Grand Rapids-based West Side Beer Distributing. The deal was expected to turn West Side Beer Distributing into one of AB InBev’s top 10 distributors.

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Monday, December 11, 7:36 am

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