Intended for healthcare professionals


Merging alcohol giants threaten global health

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 17 November 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6087
  1. Jeff Collin, professor of global health policy,
  2. Sarah E Hill, senior lecturer,
  3. Katherine E Smith, reader
  1. 1Global Public Health Unit, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9LD, UK
  1. Correspondence to: J Collin jeff.collin{at}

Alcohol has comparable health risks to tobacco but none of its pariah status

The world’s two largest beer manufacturers, Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) and SABMiller, have agreed in principle to merge. AB InBev, the Belgium based producer of global brands such as Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois will acquire London based SABMiller, brewer of Peroni, Miller, and Grolsch. At £70bn (€100bn; $106bn) this would be the third largest deal in corporate history, establishing a dominant position in the global beer market.1 Its completion depends on navigating the regulatory demands of competition policy in multiple jurisdictions. Yet the real importance of the deal is what it symbolises for the future of the global alcohol industry. Here we focus on its implications for the growing epidemic of alcohol related harm across low and middle income countries.

The health interest of this business story lies partly in the sheer scale of the merger. The new company will produce an estimated one third of all beer sold worldwide and will be market leader in 24 of the …

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