Once upon a time, the "King of Beers" ruled the worldBudweiser controlled 52 percent of the U.S. beer market, and Anheuser-Busch was the world's top brewer. Then, economic hardship fell upon the land of milk and honey (and baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet), and the King became a pawn that easily fell into the hands of foreign interests. Today, the Great American Lager is no more. Anheuser-Busch's fairy tale is over, and as Dethroning the King: The Hostile Takeover of Anheuser-Busch, an American Icon details, the legendary company collapsed in spectacular fashion. How it all played out behind the scenes is the real storyand it's one people should get used to hearing as foreign companies set their sights on America's most popular brands, taking advantage of a weakened American economy and preying on American corporations that have for far too long viewed themselves as "too big to be taken over."
In the summer of 2008investment bank Bear Stearns had already collapsed; lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were teetering on the verge of insolvency; financial services firm Lehman Brothers would soon declare the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history; and Anheuser-Busch had just received a takeover bid from foreign brewing giant InBev. As Dethroning the King describes, InBev's timing wasn't just lucky; it was perfect.
Anheuser-Busch, which had been ruled for decades by iron-fisted scion August A. Busch III, had just handed the reins to his son, August A. Busch IVand young August's leadership was drawing lukewarm reviews from investors and even his own board of directors. Americans all across the country, meanwhile, were too distracted by their imploding personal finances to be concerned about Anheuser-Busch's fate. Many Americans had never even heard of global brewing behemoth InBev, and they didn't realize Budweiser had come under foreign attack until it was too late.
On November 18, 2008, the stock of Anheuser-Busch, known for its "BUD" ticker symbol, stopped trading, and one of America's oldest, most beloved brands lost its American-owned status. In Dethroning the King, Julie MacIntoshthe U.S. Mergers and Acquisitions Correspondent who led the Financial Times's coverage of the takeover of Anheuser-Buschtakes you behind the scenes to tell the inside story of the King of Beers' 150-year rise to power and its seven-week fall from grace.