I can hear the rednecks howl.
"InBev steps up its courting of Budweiser maker
David Gow in Brussels
Thursday June 12 2008
Inbev, the Belgian brewer, today saw its shares leap more than 4% after last night tabling an unsolicited $46.3bn (£23.76bn) bid for US rival Anheuser-Busch. If successful, the bid move would create the world's biggest beer-maker, with brands ranging from Stella Artois and Becks to Budweiser.
The Belgian group, which is offering $65 a share, is under pressure to sweeten its all-cash proposal closer to $70 but stepped up its courting of the maker of Budweiser by stressing its admiration for the Anheuser board and offering to take a "number of directors" on to the board of the new group. Anheuser shares rose 7% late on Wednesday.
Carlos Britos, Inbev chief executive, said in a video statement that there was a "strong business rationale" behind the offer and is due to step up his wooing in a conference call with investors later today.
Inbev, whose stable of brands includes Stella Artois, Becks and Bass, claims its offer represents a 35% premium on Anheuser's average share price before speculation of its approach surfaced. It says it is seeking a "friendly combination".
Britos has requested a meeting with his opposite number at Anheuser, August Busch, but has so far received no response. The US group did not reject the offer out of hand but said it would study it carefully. Inbev executives discussed its potential offer with Busch in Tampa on June 2 but made no formal proposal.
Britos has promised to make St Louis, Missouri - Anheuser's home town - the headquarters of the new group's North American operations and the global home of Budweiser. InBev says the new group would have combined sales of $36.4bn and pre-tax earnings of $10.7bn.
The bid is now the focus of warring websites, with InBev creating a new site http://www.globalbeerleader.com/ and opponents of the offer creating a rival site http://www.savebudweiser.com/ which has already received almost 32,000 of signatures from those determined that an American icon such as Budweiser should not fall into foreign hands. The site highlights the US company's charitable donations, its environmental awareness and says it is a "huge supporter of our military and their families both here and abroad".
"Let's band together as one voice and try to save more than just our beer," it says. "We don't want another American icon turned over to a foreign company; we want the motto to remain ... The Great American Lager."
About this articleClose
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Thursday June 12 2008. It was last updated at 12:20 on June 12 2008."