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just Five Years Ago: InBev's Acquisition of Anheuser-Busch

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Five years ago this month, the global beer world changed forever. After a shorter-than-anticipated period of wrangling, US brewer Anheuser-Busch accepted a US$52bn takeover bid from Belgium brewer InBev, thus creating the world's biggest brewer.

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This seismic deal would not have seemed possible earlier in the decade: Here was a patriotic, 150-year-old US family company with its self-styled 'King of Beers' brand Budweiser; what chances that it would be taken over by a European group?

But, it happened.

As just-drinks noted in its Noughties' round-up, in 2003, InterBrew, as it was then known, had only Stella Artois as a global brand. However, its capture of Brazil's AmBev in 2004 transformed the company, renamed InBev, paving the way for its bid for A-B.

Despite objections from many quarters, including US senators, mayors and would-be presidents - not to mention the 'Save our Bud' bumper stickers, the deal was eventually completed in November 2008

Since then Anheuser-Busch InBev has cemented its positon as the world's biggest brewer. Cleverly, the company has managed to maintain Budweiser as an iconic American brand, even though its owned by a company headquartered in Belgium. 

As just-drinks' editor, Olly Wehring, noted at the time this scale of consolidation in the brewing world appeared to have peaked in 2008 with Heineken and Carlsberg's takeover of Scottish & Newcastle adding to the flurry of M&A activity. 

But in the last 12 months, with Heineken's swoop for Asia Pacific Breweries and A-B InBev paying US$20bn for its old foes, now friends, Modelo, the brewing merger wheel has once again begun to turn. 

Meanwhile, talk of another brewing "mega-merger" between A-B InBev and SABMiller rumbles on. But, we may have to wait some time as the Budweiser brewer gets its head round its shiny new Mexican prize. 


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