updated 5/19/2006 11:15:25 AM ET 2006-05-19T15:15:25

Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., citing consumers’ need for variety in beer, said Friday it will pay $82 million to purchase the Rolling Rock beer brand from InBev USA, the U.S. subsidiary of Belgian-Brazilian brewer InBev SA.

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The deal will make Rolling Rock brands available to more consumers, St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch said. The company will begin brewing Rolling Rock and Rock Green Light in August. Anheuser-Busch, maker of the top-selling beer and light beer, Budweiser and Bud Light, is the nation’s largest brewer.

InBev USA, based in Norwalk, Conn., said it will sell its brewery in Latrobe, Pa., and focus its U.S. business on its imported beers, which include Stella Artois and Beck’s. The company is currently in discussion with potential buyers.

“The decision to sell the Rolling Rock brands was based on InBev’s strategic approach to the U.S. market, which is to focus on the high-growth import brands in our portfolio,” said Doug Corbett, president of InBev USA.

Shares of Anheuser-Busch rose 31 cents to $46.50 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Rolling Rock was introduced in 1939 by Latrobe Brewing Co. It was acquired by InBev’s Labatt U.S.A. in 1987.

Anheuser-Busch said it will maintain Rolling Rock’s and Rock Green Light’s recipes, and will continue to sell the beers in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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