GREENSBORO, N.C. — State legislators have asked the U.S. Senate to investigate MillerCoors’ decision to close its brewery in Eden, three days before its parent company began engaging in public merger discussions with Budweiser's parent company AB InBev.
The plant closure, announced in September, will eliminate more than 500 jobs in Eden.
Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and Rep. Bert Jones, both Republicans, sent a bipartisan letter co-signed by 112 state lawmakers to the the U.S. Senate’s Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee. The subcommittee plans to meet this Tuesday, December 8.
In the letter, addressed to U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, the legislators pressed subcommittee-member Tillis to ask representatives of parent company SABMiller why it announced it would close Eden’s brewery three days before it began public merger discussions and whether the decision was made in advance of the merger so the combined companies would not be labeled a monopoly by the U.S. Department of Justice.
"Given that in the last few years alone MillerCoors has approved new contracts for local brewery workers, signed a 25-year agreement with the City of Eden, and undertaken a 70,000 square foot facility expansion, why would it shut down the brewery after those major investments?," the legislators wrote.
The Associated Press reported in November that when the merger is complete, SABMiller will sell its 58 percent stake in its venture with Molson Coors for $12 billion to allay fears that the company would become a monopoly with a stranglehold on the U.S. market. The deal includes rights to the Miller brand name and gives Molson Coors full control of operations.
Greensboro restaurateur and developer Marty Kotis said Wednesday he may open a small craft brewery in Eden, which was devastated this week by MillerCoors' announcement that it would close its massive brewery there and lay off all 520 workers.
Asked about the possible local impact from the closing of the MillerCoors brewery in Eden, North Carolina, in September 2016, Henry County Administrator Tim Hall said: “I know many of our residents work there and obviously will be directly affected by the decision.”
MillerCoors announced Monday morning to its employees it plans to close its Eden plant by September 2016.