The $52 billion acquisition, announced in November, creates a new entity, Anheuser-Busch InBev, which immediately becomes the world's largest brewer, with a brand stable that includes Budweiser, Bud Light, Stella Artois, Beck's, Michelob, Busch, Brahma and many other brews.
"By bringing together these two great businesses, we have created a stronger, more-competitive global company with a leading international brand portfolio and distribution network, and great potential for growth all over the world," ABI CEO Carlos Brito said in a statement. "We look forward to leveraging the operational and cultural strengths of both companies."
The acquisition of A-B ends the independence of one of the most iconic and successful American marketing machines ever built.
Adolphus Busch's insight that Americans would prefer lighter, Czech-style lagers to the heavy Germanic brews that had previously dominated American beer sales proved to be enormously incisive. And his early adoption of pasteurization in bottling lines -- making it possible to ship beer over great distances for the first time -- laid the groundwork for a distribution colossus that still dominates the U.S. market today.
Rise to pre-eminence
In later years, the company revolutionized sports marketing and leveraged the power of mass media to move mass-market brands at a pace few marketers have matched.
A-B stumbled some as consumer audiences and tastes fragmented, but in recent years it made tremendous strides at selling craft and niche brands through more precisely targeted messages and on-premise sales techniques, which had helped it gain market share this year.
But the company's fate was largely sealed by its decision to forgo acquisitions in developing markets during the 1980s and 1990s, which -- combined with the weak U.S. dollar -- allowed competitors such as InBev to grow faster and, when the time came, move in.
A-B at first fought InBev's bid, but -- faced with a hefty premium for shares that had been largely stagnant for much of the decade -- it ultimately capitulated. "By combining with InBev, we have created a first-class international consumer-products company and, without a doubt, the premier global brewer," said outgoing A-B CEO August Busch IV, who will remain on the ABI board. "Together, we will achieve our goals far more effectively than either company could on its own."
The new entity also unveiled its new "identity" today, which features an eagle in flight. A-B has featured a perched eagle in its logo since the early 1870s.