Money talks for Anheuser-Busch investors?


Money talks. And on the far coast of these United States, I can almost be sympathetic.

Andrew Ross Sorkin and Michael J. de La Merced bring us the latest on InBev’s bid for Anheuser-Busch:

In a reversal of its previous hostility to the idea, Anheuser-Busch is in active talks to sell itself to the Belgian brewer InBev in a friendly deal, people briefed on the matter said.

InBev has raised its offer to $70 a share, more than the $65 it had originally offered, a person close to the talks said on Friday.

An announcement of the deal could come as early as Monday, though people briefed on the talks cautioned that they might still break down ….

…. Helping to drive the deal talks was the indication that some of Anheuser’s largest shareholders, including Warren E. Buffett, were leaning toward backing a deal with InBev.

The turnabout comes only days after Anheuser-Busch, said to be weakly positioned to fight the takeover bid, filed a desperate lawsuit, hoping to stave off the transnational corporation’s attempt by accusing it of “a litany of sins, from rumor-mongering to lying to trying to violate the United States’s trade embargo with Cuba”.

Anheuser-Busch’s filing is an interesting read, dated July 7, yet only a few days later they are apparently ready to talk, and for all of five dollars more per share. Perhaps they felt their lawsuit had no chance. Perhaps they decided the takeover would go ahead anyway. I mean, it is Warren Buffet, after all.

Sorkin and de la Merced note that the iconic American brewer risks political backlash after local efforts from politicians and patrons alike joined the fight InBev’s takeover. But in these economic times, how well would the layoff of fifteen percent of the company’s workforce go over? The current Busch management team has apparently stated they would do just that in order to increase the company’s bottom line and enhance its stock. Maybe that plan will be set aside as the board negotiates a sellout, but in the world of business, a good idea is a good idea.

And if a deal does come about, perhaps the folks in St. Louis can find some sympathy in Seattle. After all, good faith means nothing in this town compared to money; it’s not that I am a huge fan of our departing NBA franchise, but rather that I am dismayed by the gutless turnabout.

To the other, though, if InBev holds true to its word, at least St. Louis gets to keep one of its most enduring symbols.

So cheer up, St. Louis; that should count for something. After all, Anheuser-Busch might make shitty beer, but at least you get to keep your shitty beer.

After all, up here in Seattle, there were plenty who lamented the passing of Oly and Rainier. And, for better or (more likely) worse, Budweiser, at least, will be sticking around for a while.

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