Some Busches Open to Selling A-B

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Brew Blog

Different attitude at One Busch Place?

August Busch III and IV may be opposed to selling Anheuser-Busch. Other family members apparently don’t have the same compunctions.

That’s perhaps the most interesting revelation since last week’s report that InBev was interested in acquiring Anheuser-Busch. And it comes courtesy of a Wall Street Journal profile of August Busch IV in today’s Wall Street Journal.

From the story:

On Monday, one family member, Adolphus Busch IV, said he and some other family members are open to the idea of Anheuser and InBev sitting down to discuss a possible deal. Mr. Busch, 54 years old, is a half-brother of August A. Busch III, the legendary former CEO and father of Anheuser’s current CEO. Mr. Busch says he owns a “substantial” block of shares, though less than 1% of the total.

“There are members that absolutely want it to stay status quo,” said Adolphus Busch in an interview. “There are others that say they want to see some kind of chance to enhance shareholder value.”

The article points out: “An offer by InBev would put the 43-year-old August A. Busch IV in a tough spot. If Anheuser is sold to InBev, he could be remembered as the member of the founding Busch family who let the St. Louis icon slip into foreign hands.”

The Wall Street Journal story takes a close look at August IV’s leadership since taking the reins in December 2006. Based on the story, August IV has butted heads with his father, August III, more than a few times – which created challenges for A-B employees who had to deal with mixed messages.

“The younger Mr. Busch acknowledges there has been tension,” the story reports. “His transition to CEO, he says, has been ‘a very difficult, fluid situation.’ The elder Mr. Busch declined to be interviewed.”

For instance, August IV was interested in acquiring Hansen Natural, makers of Monster Energy drink; August III was opposed. (The A-B system now handles distribution for Hansen.)

August III also apparently was opposed to the A-B system importing InBev’s family of European brews. He feared it would create “complications” for A-B distributors.

From the story:

The younger Mr. Busch says he and his father also clashed over plans for his own management team, which he installed last year. “If I can’t have my team, how can you hold me accountable for performance?” Mr. Busch says.

Here’s the Wall Street Journal profile of August Busch IV.

In other A-B/InBev related news, reports suggest that InBev may decide whether to make an offer as early as today.

It’s worth noting that some media reports have suggested that InBev’s plan B could be a deal with SABMiller plc, parent of Miller Brewing Company.

 

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