On Sunday, July 13, the board of directors at Anheuser-Busch voted to accept InBev’s aggressive takeover bid. Budweiser, the “King of Beers,” will be in the hands of Belgium-based InBev, ending weeks of bickering, lawsuits and counter-suits. As the saying goes, everyone has their price, and apparently the Belgian brewer’s bid became more attractive and harder to refuse as it upped the offering to $70 a share, for a total value of about $50 billion.
But as the results of our latest poll show, not everyone was pleased with these turn of events, and the newly-named “Anheuser-Busch InBev.” In fact, just a bit more than half of all respondents felt that A-B should have blocked the acquisition. This group agreed that A-B is as American as apple pie and baseball and should not fall into foreign ownership. Some even signed up at SaveAB.com, which drew more than 72,500 signatures.
However, other segments were more open-minded in their point of view. Approximately 18 percent agreed that they could accept the acquisition, depending on the deal’s terms. If InBev promises to keep A-B in its home of St. Louis (which it has) and keep all U.S. breweries operational (InBev said yes to this too), then they could accept InBev’s ownership.
A third segment – almost 17.5 percent -- felt A-B’s ownership doesn’t matter that much, as long as the products stay the same and quality is maintained. And finally, the fourth segment, the one with the smallest percentage – roughly 15 percent – considered A-B’s financial future and agreed that it’s in the brewer’s best interest to accept ownership from a large, multi-national company like InBev. The segment reasoned that Budweiser’s earnings would likely be enhanced and that A-B’s stockholders, in particular, would garner better returns with InBev in charge.
Indeed, pressure and lawsuits from A-B’s stockholders helped to persuade A-B to go with InBev. Former chairman and CEO August A. Busch III, father of the current chief, August Busch IV, retains a large stake in A-B, with 4.6 million shares, which would be worth about $322 million when the deal closes. Even that substantial amount pales when compared to what Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett stands to gain from the deal: his ownership of 35.6 million shares of Anheuser, worth about $2.5 billion. Check out our latest poll at bevinfogroup.com.