InBev Secures Anheuser-Busch for $52 Billion

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InBev Secures Anheuser-Busch for $52 Billion

NEW YORK -- While Budweiser will taste the same, it has a new owner, a move that sent shock waves from Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. (A-B) St. Louis headquarters to Brussels -- now home to InBev the largest beer brewer in the world.

"Let me stress that this is a friendly business agreement. Carlos Brito is a strong leader with an ambitious plan for building this new great business. I respect him and he has my firm backing on the operation of the future company," A-B Chairman August Busch IV said in a joint conference call with InBev Chairman Brito. "I am convinced we will honor his public commitments and continue the traditions that have made Anheuser-Busch a success over many years."

Despite the fact that InBev sent multiple offers of $46.3 billion for the company over the last two months and letters that went unanswered and resulted in the company seeking a legal injunction to remove A-B board members -- Brito echoed Busch's sentiments.

"Thanks, August, very kind words. You are right," he said during the conference call. "I would like to stress it is a friendly combination, and we will jointly work to make this dream come true."

While St. Louis politicians are crying foul as it is estimated that A-B will cut 1,000 salaried jobs before the merger is official, the real sticking point came down to money as the $46.3 billion offer, which equates to $65 a share, was deemed too low by Busch just two weeks ago.

The new deal finds the company price tag at $52 billion representing a $70 per share in cash. "While the process was at times difficult for all parties, in the end the right result occurred for everyone," Busch said during the conference call.

Industry insiders say the deal is a win-win for both companies. "The synergies are better than expected, $70 is a reasonable price and InBev has avoided a long drawn-out battle in the courts," KBC Securities analyst for the Brussles based-Wim Hoste, said in a released statement.

Brito will be named chief executive officer of the combined company, while Anheuser-Busch CEO August Busch IV will step back into a non-executive role; however, he will be a member of the new company's board alongside one yet to be named nominee from A-B.

Since A-B owned a 50 percent share of Mexico's Grupo Modelo, the Mexican company said in a statement that its relationship with A-B gives it consent rights to the deal. Brito told reporters during the conference call that he didn't "see any impediments coming from Modelo" and he was in "positive" talks about moving forward as partners.

To the relief of many, Brito said InBev plans to use St. Louis as its North American headquarters, as well as keep open all 12 of A-B's North American breweries.
As speculation widens over the future of employees post merger, Brito said job losses are not on tap but rather growth and investment. "Great people attract more great people. Mediocre people attract more of the same," he said during the conference call.