Blog: Olly WehringFight fans at the ready

Olly Wehring | 28 May 2008

The prospect of Anheuser-Busch and InBev slugging it out in a hostile takeover battle has all the attractions of a great heavyweight-boxing bout. Anheuser and InBev both have claims to the world title, A-B by value, InBev by volume. This clash could finally decide who is the out and out champion.

Add in the possible addition of another young pretender (SABMiller) to the fray and you can see why the world’s media has already gone crazy over this deal, despite no formal approach by InBev as yet – Rocky VII eat your heart out.

So far, little has been confirmed by either party. InBev is believed to be weighing an unsolicited bid for Anheuser, which analysts think will top US$45 billion, making it the largest beer acquisition ever.

It is also widely believed that the A-B board will reject the offer, with CEO August A. Busch IV, who only took over from his father at the helm 18 months ago, particularly opposed. And who can blame him? In its piece on the deal today, the Wall Street Journal said that if the deal goes through, “Mr Busch could be remembered as the Busch family member who let an American icon slip into foreign hands.” Hardly a ringing endorsement of his tenure.

Yet even within the Busch family a united front against a foreign knock-out blow may be unlikely. Comments by one Busch-family member, Adolphus Busch IV, suggested he and some other family members are open to the idea of Anheuser and InBev sitting down to discuss a possible deal.

“There are members that absolutely want it to stay status quo," Adolphus Busch told the Wall Street Journal. "There are others that say they want to see some kind of chance to enhance shareholder value."

If that didn’t already pose an interesting enough plot for you, then news that SABMiller’s share price is on the move on speculation it may still be involved in all this only adds to the intrigue.

The UK-based brewer is thought to have been InBev’s initial target before it turned its attention to Anheuser-Busch. There is now talk that should that US bid fail, InBev will return its focus to the owner of Castle lager.


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