Moving one step closer to a reality, Anheuser-Busch shareholders voted earlier today to approve the takeover by InBev, whose shareholders likewise approved the deal on September 29. The merger is now expected to close by the end of this year, pending regulatory approvals and other conditions stipulated under the contract.
From the press release:
“The proposed merger between Anheuser-Busch and InBev under consideration today was a difficult decision for our board to make,” said August A. Busch IV, president and CEO, in comments made during the meeting. “In the end, the board determined that the InBev proposal is in the best interest of our shareholders. The merger also provides a promising future for our beer brands and for all stakeholders — employees, wholesalers, retailers and our consumers.”
“Under the merger, the new company will expand Budweiser into new markets around the world, fulfilling the global ambitions my family has long dreamed about for this great American brand. I’m proud that the Budweiser tradition and our 150-year commitment to delivering the best brewed beer in the world will live on,” said Busch. “I want to sincerely thank our shareholders for the support they have given me and this great company for so many years.”
August A. Busch IV will be a director of the newly combined company, which will take the name Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Despite some recent rumors about problems with obtaining the financing under the present global economic downturn, all seems to be going along smoothly. It now looks like, barring any additional financial market calamity, there’s nothing standing in the way of this merger taking place and closing before 2009.
My one quibble with A-B’s statement today — there’s always something, right — is Busch’s comment that “[t]he merger also provides a promising future for our beer brands and for all stakeholders — employees, wholesalers, retailers and our consumers.” Maybe, but it certainly does not do so equally or evenly. Many of the employees who will be laid off might not feel that their futures have been made better by the merger. Likewise, distributor shakeups will inevitably take place, which I’m skeptical will be for the better. As for how it affects consumers, only time will tell.