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Dethroning The King: The Hostile Takever of Anheuser-Busch, An American Icon

1 rating: 5.0
2011 nonfiction book by Julie MacIntosh

How the King of Beers collapsed without a fight and what it means for America's place in the post-Recession world How did InBev, a Belgian company controlled by Brazilians, take over one of America's most beloved brands with scarcely a whimper … see full wiki

Publisher: Wiley
Date Published: November 8, 2011
1 review about Dethroning The King: The Hostile Takever...

Chronicling the final days of a great American company.

  • Nov 26, 2011
The company had been an institution in the city of St. Louis for more than a century.  As the story begins to unfold in 2008 Anheuser-Busch was still a global icon and the last of the major brewers in this country that was still American-owned.  On the surface it seemed inconceivable to most Americans that Anheuser-Busch was ripe for the taking.  But those in the know in the brewing industry were keenly aware that Anheuser-Busch was a bloated company with a number of troubling internal management issues. The most likely potential suitor appeared to be InBev, an entity created in 2004 as the result of the merger of the Belgian company Interbrew and the Brazilian company AmBev.  When it became apparent that the threat of takeover was imminent Anheuser-Busch's Board of Directors scrambled to come up with a workable plan that would keep the company independent.  It was going to be a tumultuous few months.  Author Julie MacIntosh has chronicled it all in her captivating new book "Dethroning The King:  The Hostile Takeover of Anheuser-Busch, An American Icon".   In this meticulously researched book you will meet and spend some time with virtually all of the key players in this saga and discover the strategies and skullduggery employed to finally make this deal happen.  I literally could not put this book down.

Anheuser-Busch had roots in St. Louis dating all the way back to 1860.   This is when the brewery that would become Anheuser-Busch was purchased on the brink of bankruptcy by Eberhard Anhueser, a prosperous German-born soap manufacturer.  Adolphus Busch, Anheuser’s son-in-law, joined E. Anheuser & Co. in 1864, becoming partner in 1869.  Adolphus became president when Anheuser died in 1880, and the company then became Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association.   For the next thirteen decades the Busch family and the City of St. Louis would enjoy a long and prosperous relationship.   Under the aggresive leadership of August Busch III (a/k/a The Third) who served as Chairman of the Board from 1974 to 2002 and took the company public Anheuser-Busch would increase it's share of the U.S. beer market from 23% to a bit more than 50%, an amazing achievement.  But by the time The Third stepped down as Chairman in 2002 there was trouble brewing.  Tastes were changingMicrobreweries were all the rage and more and more people were opting for wine and spirits instead of beer.  Anheuser-Busch's U.S. market share was shrinking and the company had paid precious little attention to expanding into global markets.  Meanwhile, the competition was consolidating and new CEO August Busch IV was viewed by many to be ill-equipped to deal with all of these pressing problems.  Indeed,  Anheuser-Busch was ripe for the taking and one potential suitor was not about to let this opportunity slip by. 

InBev was created in 2004 from the merger of the Belgian company Interbrew and the Brazilian company AmBev.  For quite some time InBev had been looking for a way to become a significant player in the U.S. market and at one point InBev's Jorge Paulo Lemann suggested to August IV that they should consider a merger.  The Fourth dismissed the idea but clearly Inbev had the legendary company on their radar.  In early 2008 the rumor mill had InBev preparing a $65 per share offer to acquire Anheuser-Busch and just a few short months later the formal offer was made.  Anheuser-Busch's Board of Directors were stunned.  They had never really believed that InBev had the wherewithall  to cobble together the financing to make such a deal possible.  Furthermore, the Board quickly discovered that there were few viable options available to help them ward off a hostile takeover.  The scramble was on to find a way to save the company.

In "Dethroning The King: The Hostile Takeover of Anheuser-Busch, An American Icon" author Julie MacIntosh literally provides her readers with the play-by-play of this extremely complicated and highly emotional transaction.  Bringing this deal to fruition would require several months of painstaking negotiations involving hundreds of people.  There were so many twists and turns. At times it appeared to be a done deal and then suddenly there was a new obstacle to overcome. Meanwhile, the future hung in the balance for more than 30,000 Anhesuer-Busch employees and distributors. There would be offers and counteroffers and delay tactics employed as the A-B Board explored other options that would allow their company to continue to be independently owned.  But in the end a deal was consummated.  Some would become fabulously rich while the less fortunate would ultimately lose their jobs as InBev implemented drastic cost-cutting meastures shortly after the takeover.  Julie MacIntosh does a workmanlike job explaining the process and all of the machinations to her readers.  I  felt like I was a "fly on the wall" while all of these negotiations and meetings were transpiring.  I had never read an account of a corporate takeover before but I must tell you that "Dethroning The King" managed to hold my interest from cover-to-cover.  This is an extremely well-written and highly informative book.    Very highly recommended!   
Chronicling the final days of a great American company.

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