Anheuser Busch, the makers of Budweiser, will reject InBev’s generous buyout offer while announcing a plan to overhaul the company to cut costs. The cat and mouse game isn’t over yet though.
But for now it appears as if all the St. Louis/ American brand/family business/hometown operation talk put enough pressure on the brewers to reject the $46.6 billion offer from the Belgian/Brazilian makers of Beck’s and Stella Artois.
However, this isn’t really the big victory many were hoping for. It looks like Anheuser is going to take some hits in order to stay the all-American beer company. One of these hits, unfortunately, will lead to the very job losses the company was trying to avoid by rejecting the buyout.
Andrew Ross Sorkin, the dealmeister from The New York Times, explains the details in an article today:
In an effort to justify rejecting InBevÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s $65-a-share bid, Anheuser-Busch is expected to announce an extensive reorganization aimed at bolstering profits that will include cutting more than $500 million in costs, these people said.The savings will come from reducing marketing expenses and possibly shedding assets like its Busch Gardens theme park business and its packaging unit. The reorganization, which is expected to include scores of job cuts, may anger some residents and politicians in St. Louis, where the companyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s headquarters is located, who had been pressing Anheuser-Busch to reject the bid in part to save local jobs.
Oh no, selling Busch Gardens?! What a shame. But none of that looks like it will ultimately stop InBev from sealing the deal. This rejection is expected to force the company’s hand into a hostile takeover scenario.
InBev will speak directly to the shareholders of A-B to show how the company would be foolish not to accept such a generous offer. This is the time when all the promises to keep it a St. Louis-based American brand will come out, along with:
1.) “We’ll make Budweiser the flagship brand for the merged companies.”
2.) “We’ll keep the Anheuser-Busch name and the families will still be involved.”
3.) “We promise not to do something Eurotrashy and gay with the bottle designs.”
4.) “We won’t relabel Budweiser as ‘piss flavored‘.”
In spite of all the $500 million of cost-cutting measures, and Busch Gardens sell-offs, A-B’s last chance to stay independent may be to complete the full purchase Grupo Modelo (makers of Corona), of which it already owns 50%. It’s weird how one of the only ways to save a well-known American brand from being bought out is for it to buyout a well-known Mexican brand.
But even that purchase will be tough, because Grupo Modelo indicated it was unlikely to sell to A-B, but is engaging in direct talks with InBev. Epic Burn! So it seems that in spite of the relatively ‘good news’ that A-B said ‘f- off’ to InBev, it may all be short-lived because they aren’t out of the woods yet.
NYT: Anheuser To Reject InBev Offer, June 26, 2008
WallStreetFighter: How Can the Budweiser Brand Turn Down This Deal?, June 12, 2008