Belgian Bud

The Belgian beer giant InBev has made a proposal to buy Anheuser-Busch, the iconic American brewer of Budweiser and other beers. InBev has big plans for AB:

As part of its proposal, InBev envisions making St. Louis, MO the headquarters for the North American region and the global home of the flagship Budweiser brand. In addition, InBev has proposed to name the combined company to evoke Anheuser-Busch's heritage, reflecting the strong history of Anheuser-Busch's key brands. Given the limited geographical overlap between the two businesses and the efficiency of Anheuser-Busch's brewery footprint in the United States, InBev would maintain all of Anheuser-Busch's U.S. breweries.

Also, Budweiser isn't doing too well, lately, although Bud Light does well:

Shipments of Budweiser in the U.S. have slumped 33%, to 24.6 million barrels last year from 36.9 million in 1998, according to industry newsletter Beer Marketer’s Insights. Shipments of Bud Light, the top-selling beer in the U.S., climbed 61% to 42 million over the same span.

InBev would attempt to expand Budweiser as a global brand, much like Coca-Cola, while keeping all of its US operations intact. It sounds like a win-win situation, doesn't it? However, this hasn't stopped US politicians of both parties from using this proposal as an opportunity for grandstanding:

Republican Gov. Matt Blunt said Wednesday he opposes the deal, and directed the Missouri Department of Economic Development to see if there was a way to stop it.

"I am strongly opposed to the sale of Anheuser-Busch, and today's offer to purchase the company is deeply troubling to me," Blunt said in a statement.
The local Senators had to get in on this, too:

Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., sent a letter Thursday to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, asking him to closely scrutinize the acquisition.

"The proposed foreign acquisition of Anheuser-Busch is troubling to me because it potentially raises antitrust issues under existing law by putting a significant market share of the U.S. in the hands of fewer competitors," the letter said. [Editor's note - this makes no sense.]

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said she was "nervous" about the deal, and planned to send a letter to Anheuser-Busch's board of directors asking them not to allow the deal to move forward.

"On behalf of me and all my friends that like nothing better than a Bud Light every summer [Editor's note - yeah right], it makes us very upset," McCaskill said.

These politicians are preying on the populist and protectionist fears of average people, who are shocked at the idea of an American beer being owned by a foreign company. It seems pretty clear, however, that St. Louis will not suffer if this sale goes through. But is all too common, unfortunately, that when economic issues are concerned, politicians side with fear instead of facts. Of course, I realize that it is good politics to pander to Bud drinkers and employees in Missouri, but how about a little leadership?

Besides, what do I care? I like to drink Shiner.

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