The End of the Line for the Busch Family

That August Anheuser Busch IV is the CEO of Anheuser Busch is a feat of nepotism which makes the government of Singapore look like Goldman Sachs.

Andrew Ross Sorkin rehearses the facts:

By college, his transgressions went well beyond youthful indiscretions: A woman he was with, a local waitress, was killed when his Corvette crashed at 6:30 in the morning. He fled the scene and was found with blood on him eight hours later. His close-knit family rallied around him, sent in high-powered lawyers, and the police dropped the investigation after evidence was misplaced.

Two years later, he was involved in a high-speed car chase with the police and was accused of trying to run over an officer with his Mercedes. Again, the family’s lawyers swooped in and he was acquitted.

Sorkin concludes that The Fourth "may have inherited his position more than earned it," displaying a hitherto unsuspected mastery of the art of meiosis.

And it’s a very relevant fact: there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit lying around for a super-professional manager like Carlos Brito to pick. You could say that Brito’s $65-a-share offer represents a 35% premium over Anheuser-Busch’s 30-day average share price; you could also say that Anheuser Busch has been trading at a 25% discount thanks to its amateur-hour management. Hilariously, the big fights over management and direction have not been between the Busch family and their professional-manager employees, but rather between fathers and uncles and sons within the family. Isn’t it time to quietly retire the lot of them, and put someone competent in charge?

Can one make the argument that, over the long term, an InBev takeover of Anheuser Busch might even be better for St Louis than a continuation of the status quo? Frankly, probably not. Once headquarters move to Belgium, a certain amount of high-end economic activity will inevitably leave St Louis. On the other hand, anybody in the area with Anheuser Busch stock is likely to become wealthier than they ever thought they would be. If I were a local, I’d be sad at the passing of a local icon, but I’d shed a finite amount of tears and move on.

This entry was posted in M&A. Bookmark the permalink.