TOPICS > Economy

InBev to Buy Anheuser-Busch for $52 Billion

BY Admin  July 14, 2008 at 5:45 PM EST

Store owners move cases of beer; AP

The deal, which ends Anheuser’s 150 years of independence, created the world’s largest beer maker and is the third-largest foreign takeover of a U.S. company.

InBev, which makes Stella Artois, Bass and Beck’s, agreed to pay $70 per share for the maker of Budweiser and Michelob. The original, unsolicited bid in June was $65 per share.

The new company, which will be called Anheuser-Busch InBev, has pledged to keep Budweiser as its flagship brand.

Carlos Brito, InBev’s Brazilian chief executive told reporters the new company will be 62 percent larger in terms of revenue than SAB Miller, the current No. 1 brewer in the world. The company will have net sales of about $36 billion a year.

Many U.S. Anheuser-Busch shareholders were in favor of the deal, but it sparked heated opposition in the brewer’s home state of Missouri, where the iconic beer company has been an active and charitable member of the community.

Matt Sepic, a reporter at National Public Radio station KWMU in St. Louis, said popular opposition among St. Louis residents had ebbed in recent days.

“Early on there was a lot of anger, but people in St. Louis have come to the realization that globalization is a fact and that Anheuser-Busch will be owned by a foreign firm,” Sepic said.

Brito promised that St. Louis would be the North American headquarters for the new merged company. He also promised not to close any of Anheuser-Busch’s 12 breweries in the United States.

Sepic called the promises political choices to avoid bad press, but also a smart move for the brand.

“Certainly keeping the headquarters in St. Louis would be a very smart thing to do because the brewery and the Clydesdales and all that image surrounding Anheuser-Busch has been built up to sell beer. They know that,” Sepic said.

In a media conference call, Brito acknowledged the importance of maintaining the brand image.

“What consumers care is that their Bud will always be their Bud, and that’s what we’re committed to, not only the product, the quality, the beer … but also the heritage, the breweries, who brews the beers, and everything that’s connected to the breweries,” Brito said.

The company will implement a cost-cutting plan that would cut $1.5 billion of synergies over three years. It’s not clear what that will mean for Anheuser-Busch employees.

During a Monday conference call with reporters, Anheuser chief executive August Busch IV stressed that the deal was “friendly,” despite the fact that it came after a rough month of lawsuits and contentious press releases between the companies.

Busch will become a member of the new company’s board, once the deal is approved by both companies’ shareholders.

InBev’s takeover is the latest in a series of American beer company buyouts. South African Breweries bought the Miller Brewing Company in 1999, and the Adolph Coors Company was purchased by Molson of Canada in 2005.

“The growth has really tapered off with your basic American beers. People are going towards craft beers, small breweries, and there is of course wine and liquor,” Sepic said.

“Companies see by merging they can consolidate and trim the fat and save money where they can.”