Dethroning the King: The Hostile Takeover of Anheuser-Busch, an American Icon

Dethroning the King: The Hostile Takeover of Anheuser-Busch, an American Icon

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by Julie MacIntosh
     
 

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Once upon a time, the "King of Beers" ruled the world—Budweiser controlled 52 percent of the U.S. beer market, and Anheuser-Busch was the world's top brewer. Then, economic hardship fell upon the land of milk and honey (and baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet), and the King became a pawn that easily fell into the hands of foreign interests. Today, the Great

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Overview

Once upon a time, the "King of Beers" ruled the world—Budweiser controlled 52 percent of the U.S. beer market, and Anheuser-Busch was the world's top brewer. Then, economic hardship fell upon the land of milk and honey (and baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet), and the King became a pawn that easily fell into the hands of foreign interests. Today, the Great American Lager is no more. Anheuser-Busch's fairy tale is over, and as Dethroning the King: The Hostile Takeover of Anheuser-Busch, an American Icon details, the legendary company collapsed in spectacular fashion. How it all played out behind the scenes is the real story–and it's one people should get used to hearing as foreign companies set their sights on America's most popular brands, taking advantage of a weakened American economy and preying on American corporations that have for far too long viewed themselves as "too big to be taken over."

In the summer of 2008—investment bank Bear Stearns had already collapsed; lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were teetering on the verge of insolvency; financial services firm Lehman Brothers would soon declare the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history; and Anheuser-Busch had just received a takeover bid from foreign brewing giant InBev. As Dethroning the King describes, InBev's timing wasn't just lucky; it was perfect.

Anheuser-Busch, which had been ruled for decades by iron-fisted scion August A. Busch III, had just handed the reins to his son, August A. Busch IV—and young August's leadership was drawing lukewarm reviews from investors and even his own board of directors. Americans all across the country, meanwhile, were too distracted by their imploding personal finances to be concerned about Anheuser-Busch's fate. Many Americans had never even heard of global brewing behemoth InBev, and they didn't realize Budweiser had come under foreign attack until it was too late.

On November 18, 2008, the stock of Anheuser-Busch, known for its "BUD" ticker symbol, stopped trading, and one of America's oldest, most beloved brands lost its American-owned status. In Dethroning the King, Julie MacIntosh—the U.S. Mergers and Acquisitions Correspondent who led the Financial Times's coverage of the takeover of Anheuser-Busch—takes you behind the scenes to tell the inside story of the King of Beers' 150-year rise to power and its seven-week fall from grace.

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Editorial Reviews

The Wall Street Journal
”How the Busch clan lost control of an iconic American beer company. If ever an American company represented the land of milk and honey for corporate executives it was Anheuser-Busch . . . For decades a palace of well-paid vice presidents in cushy offices presided over the manufacture of Budweiser, America's beer, in that most American of cities, St. Louis. ‘Few companies on earth were more evocative of America, with all of its history and iconography, than Anheuser-Busch,’ writes veteran Financial Times journalist Julie MacIntosh in her strenuously reported book, "Dethroning the King: The Hostile Takeover of Anheuser-Busch, an American Icon." As the title suggests, the reign of the King of Beers ended in the summer of 2008, when the company merged with the Brazil-based brewing giant InBev, an outfit about as culturally different from Anheuser-Busch as one could imagine. At $70 a share, or $52 billion, it was the largest all-cash acquisition in history and even more noteworthy because it occurred during the gathering storm of a global financial collapse. . . When growth-hungry InBev arrives on the scene, a company so lean and cost-conscious that they're called the Walmart of brewers, all hell breaks loose at the complacent Anheuser-Busch headquarters. The Brazilians make a pitch of $43 billion in what's known on Wall Street as a "bear hug"—an offer so generous that the recipient can't refuse. But A-B's board does refuse, triggering weeks of moves and counter-moves and endless end-gaming by the two companies. Ms. MacIntosh relates every gambit in crisp, scene-by-scene detail.

—The Wall Street Journal

The New York Times
“Ms. MacIntosh . . . earns extra credit for staying on the Anheuser-InBev case despite considerable macrocosmic distractions. . . The author’s persistence pays off in her account of the Busch family’s searing internecine strife. . . “Dethroning the King” makes for a fine yarn with a cautionary message about American business in the age of globalization. InBev began laying off workers less than a month after the deal formally closed, Ms. MacIntosh reports. Maybe the next time a foreign entity tries to acquire a major American family company, the public will take notice before it becomes a fait accompli.

— The New York Times

From the Publisher
"MacIntosh . . . earns extra credit for staying on the Anheuser-InBev case despite considerable macrocosmic distractions. . . . The author's persistence pays off in her account of the Busch family's searing internecine strife." —The New York Times

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780470592700
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
10/26/2010
Pages:
408
Sales rank:
936,437
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author

Joyce Bean is an accomplished audiobook narrator and director. In addition to being an AudioFile Earphones Award winner, she has been nominated multiple times for a prestigious Audie Award, including for Good-bye and Amen by Beth Gutcheon.

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