Shareholders in the leading US brewer, Anheuser-Busch, are to be given a chance to vote on whether the brewer should have an independent chairman. The vote follows a proposal submitted by National Automatic Sprinkler Industry Pension Plan of Landover, Md., which owns 95,871 shares in the brewer.

The proposal would require the board to amend the company's bylaws to require that the chairman should be a director who has not served as an officer of Anheuser-Busch. The proposal was detailed in Anheuser-Busch's proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The outcome of vote will be announced at the brewer's annual meeting on 23 April.

The National Automatic Sprinkler Industry Pension Plan of Landover, Md. said that recent corporate scandals had placed "renewed emphasis on the importance of independent directors."

However, the Anheuser-Busch board has recommended that shareholders vote against the proposal, saying that as they stand the company's bylaws give "appropriate flexibility in selecting a chairman". Anheuser-Busch also pointed out that three of the brewer's current 15 directors are present or former employees, and a majority of the board were independent as required by the New York Stock Exchange.