AB InBev, U.S. talks over Modelo progressing: sources

NEW YORK Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:29am IST

The logo of Anheuser-Busch InBev is seen on the facade of its headquarters in Leuven June 25, 2012. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

The logo of Anheuser-Busch InBev is seen on the facade of its headquarters in Leuven June 25, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Francois Lenoir

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Negotiations between Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI.BR) and the U.S. Department of Justice are moving them closer to a settlement over the brewer's planned purchase of Mexico's Grupo Modelo (GMODELOC.MX), said two sources familiar with the matter.

Talks between the parties are progressing, the sources said, noting that it was still too early to say whether the U.S. government will accept the new deal, which was revised on February 14 to address the government's antitrust concerns.

One source pointed out that the big concession - the sale to Constellation Brands (STZ.N) of a Modelo brewery that supplies the U.S. market - is similar to the one made in 2009 when InBev sold Labbatt USA to clear its $52 billion takeover of Anheuser-Busch.

A spokesman for AB InBev declined to comment on the proceedings. A DOJ official was not immediately available.

AB InBev announced a revised deal on February 14 to address the concerns that led the government to sue to block the deal two weeks prior. In addition to the sale of the Piedras Negras brewery, the new deal gives Constellation perpetual rights for Corona and other Modelo brands in the United States.

Late on Friday, a federal judge agreed to delay the government's lawsuit after the parties asked for time to conduct settlement talks.

(Reporting By Martinne Geller in New York; Editing by Eric Walsh)