Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. Makes Budweiser, Busch, Michelob and Natural Light among many others. Operates the largest brewing company in the United States in volume with a 48.8% share of beer sales. It is the world’s fourth largest brewing company based on revenue, after SABMiller, InBev and Heineken. The company is based in St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America. “A-B”, as the company is often called, operates 12 breweries in the U.S. and nearly 20 others overseas.
Anheuser-Busch is the last large-scale American brewery to be majority owned and operated in the United States.
The reason for all the hub-bub (and this very Website) is that recently, Belgian brewer InBev has made an unsolicited bid for the company ($65 a share at this writing).
A-B’s CEO August Busch IV said the company would not be sold “on my watch.” Ex-CEO August Busch III, father of the current CEO, is also known to oppose a sale. The problem though is that the Busch family, while certainly influential, does not own enough stock (less than 4 percent) to block a takeover.
InBev. This Belgian brewer makes and distributes over 200 beer brands including Stella Artois, Bass, Beck’s and Leffe. InBev is the second largest brewery company in the world (the number one is SABMiller). InBev was created in 2004 when the Belgian company Interbrew and the Brazilian company AmBev merged, creating the world’s largest brewer.
InBev is the “troublemaker” here. We certainly can’t fault CEO Carlos Brito for wanting in on Anheuser-Busch. Brito has said he hopes for a friendly deal with Anheuser-Busch and would keep the company in Missouri, but I would hazard to guess that saying “we’re going to buy you, shut down St. Louis and neuter the clydesdales” would be bad for his image.
Grupo Modelo. Mexico’s number one brewer. Makes Corona, Modelo and Pacifico brands of beer. Anheuser-Busch owns a non-controlling 50% stake in the company. Grupo Modelo has marketshare of 56% in Mexico where the company is owned by direct descendants of the founders of the company. Grupo Modelo has exclusive rights in Mexico for the import and distribution of beer produced by Anheuser-Busch.
Modelo’s CEO is Carlos Fernandez, who has been vocal in saying that he wants to keep his proud Mexican company Mexican. Fernandez’s uncle and family patriarch, Antonino Fernandez, controls Modelo’s family voting trust, which analysts say is bent on remaining independent, despite consolidation in the global beer industry and the rich pickings from selling.
Warren Buffet. The world’s richest man and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Omaha, Neb.-based Berkshire Hathaway owns more than 35.3 million shares, or 4.9 percent, of Anheuser-Busch stock, and is believed to be the brewer’s second-largest shareholder behind the 5.7 percent held by Barclays Global Investors NA of San Francisco. Berkshire Hathaway’s stake in Anheuser-Busch is worth nearly $2.3 billion at the current offer price of $65 per share.
“Mr. Buffett, who holds a 5 percent stake in Anheuser-Busch Inc., has a notable reputation for assisting in matters where family ownership is at stake,” said Adolphus Busch IV, an uncle to August Busch IV and a company shareholder, in a statement. “His participation in the recent merger of Wrigley and Mars Inc. is evidence of his integrity. Should Mr. Buffett see this merger as a positive action for all shareholders involved, the likelihood of a deal will increase enormously.”