Anheuser-Busch speeds up import deal with Grolsch |

Anheuser-Busch speeds up import deal with Grolsch

Daily Staff Report

ST. LOUIS – Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., the biggest U.S. brewer, announced Thursday it will become the sole U.S. importer of Grolsch beer nine months earlier than expected.The deal will become effective April 1, instead of January 2007, as announced last week, Anheuser-Busch said. The brewer of Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob is hoping the Grolsch agreement will help it tap into the lucrative import market.The schedule was accelerated because Netherlands-based Royal Grolsch NV reached an agreement with its current U.S. Importer – United States Beverage LLC of Stamford, Conn. – to sever their contract before it expired in December.Grolsch, whose bottles feature a distinctive flip-top lid, makes Grolsch Amber Ale, Grolsch Light Lager and Grolsch Blonde Lager among other beers.Anheuser-Busch is looking to make similar deals to add more import beers to its portfolio, said August A. Busch IV, company president. Beer sales have been stagnant in the United States over the last year, with most of the growth occurring in the import beer and micro-brew sectors.Anheuser-Busch shares fell 14 cents to $41.40 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of $40.15 to $48.49.Vail, Colorado

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