Super Bowl

InBev CEO Says Bud Brands Won't Vanish From Super Bowl

Aims to Calm Worries About Harsh Cost Controls

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CHICAGO ( -- The CEO of InBev, seeking to allay concerns about his company's cost-cutting reputation as it vies to take over Anheuser-Busch, today vowed to continue aggressively supporting brands like Budweiser and Bud Light through platforms such as the Super Bowl.
Carlos Brito
Carlos Brito Credit: InBev

"In terms of brand support, we understand that Budweiser was built on a platform of certain properties that are important, like Nascar, NFL, NHL and the Super Bowl," InBev CEO Carlos Brito said in a wide-ranging video message released this morning. "Nobody would in their right mind change that."

Avoiding culture clash
In the video, Mr. Brito responded to concerns among wholesalers that InBev -- known for its disciplined zero-based budgeting -- wouldn't be comfortable with A-B's free-spending approach to supporting its megabrands in the slow-growing U.S. market.

Most of InBev's growth has come from emerging markets, where it has gained share through discounting and increased distribution. Its primary experience with a mature-market megabrand -- Stella Artois in the U.K. -- saw it first slash media spending in favor of more on-premise and retail efforts, but later boost media support significantly.

In any event, there continue to be signs that InBev's takeover bid could be coming closer to fruition. Adolphus Busch IV, uncle of A-B CEO August Busch IV, today told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the odds of the deal happening were slightly greater than 50%.

Modelo mystery
And, in perhaps related news, Grupo Modelo CEO Carlos Fernandez today announced he was leaving A-B's board. A-B, which owns 50% of Modelo, had reportedly been negotiating in recent days to buy a greater, controlling stake in Mexico's largest brewer. That deal might have priced A-B out of InBev's range. But Modelo issued a public statement saying it intended to remain "proudly Mexican."

One report on those talks said Modelo would have received additional A-B board seats, as well as a hefty premium to its stake's current market value, so the departure from the board by its only Modelo executive is perhaps not a good omen for that deal's prospects.
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