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Anheuser-Busch plans to sell interest in Chicago distributorship

St. Louis based Anheuser-Busch has agreed to sell its stake in City Beverage, its largest distributor in Chicago. It's part of legislation that would end a multiyear battle over how alcohol is regulated in Illinois.

The Chicago Tribune reports the agreement appears in a bill expected to exit the Illinois House this week. A-B has until Jan. 1, 2015, to sell its interest in the distributorship.

     Mark Bordas, A-B's region vice president of state affairs, said in a statement, "Anheuser-Busch is pleased with the agreement reached with the Illinois legislature as it related to our minority investment in City Beverage."

Investment firm BDT Capital, which currently owns 70 percent of City Beverage, did not immediately respond to the newspaper's request for comment.

Alcohol sales are regulated in most states through a three-tier system intended to separate manufacturing, distribution and retail sales. Illinois House Bill 2606 would amend the state's liquor regulations, saying "no person licensed as a manufacturer of beer ... shall have any interest, directly or indirectly, in a holder of a distributor's license or importing distributor's license.

The Illinois Liquor Control Commission and A-B have been involved in litigation on the issue since the commission blocked the brewer from acquiring City Beverage in 2010.

     St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch is part of Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer, which reported revenue of $39.8 billion in 2012.

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