A-B, which holds a nearly 49% share of the U.S. beer market but isn't as strong abroad, said it received an unsolicited $48 billion bid from the Belgium-based, Brazilian-run brewer of Stella Artois, Beck's and Bass Ale.
CEO August Busch IV has indicated in published interviews that he intends to resist the offer, but it's unclear whether Mr. Busch, who doesn't control enough shares to block a deal, will be able to convince A-B's board to back him.
In a statement acknowledging receipt of the bid, A-B said its "board of directors will evaluate the proposal carefully and in the context of all relevant factors, including Anheuser-Busch's long-term strategic plan. The board will review the merits of the proposal consistent with its fiduciary duties and in consultation with its financial and legal advisers. The board will pursue the course of action that is in the best interests of Anheuser-Busch's stockholders. Anheuser-Busch's board expects to make its determination regarding InBev's proposal in due course."
While A-B may be hard-pressed to find a faster-growing partner in emerging markets such as Brazil and China, the prospect of foreign ownership of its iconic Budweiser brand family could be a dicey proposition. Bud is currently positioned as the "great American lager" and has in the past used the foreign owners of Miller and Coors against their brands.
Bud Light and Budweiser are the two largest beer brands in the world, and their U.S. sales account for about half of A-B's $16 billion in global revenue.