These days the talk of Belgium/Brazil beer maker potential takeover of Anheuser-Busch (NYSE:BUD) is getting St. Louisians attention. Note Anheuser-Busch is not just a large beer maker based in STL, it’s also has roots in the city and the community.
(Bottles of Stella Artois beer pass along a production line at an InBev brewery in Leuven, Belgium. Stella Artois is one of InBev’s best known brands. Paul O’Driscoll/Bloomberg News)
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (STLToday) article titled: InBev: From upstart to global beer behemoth. This article explains how InBev grew from a little Belgium brewer to world No. 1 beer maker. A beer marker with 200 brands world wide, WOW.
Large brewer vs. small brewer
A few years ago I said I will taste all the beers sold in local grocery store. I did not complete all but I did try many beers. From my observation and listen to a speech did by a fellow student, small brewers make better taste beer. This is understandable, if I use the analogy of cooking Chinese food. The small wok dish usually tastes better than huge work dish. Remember the food at college canteen?
Before the InBev buz, I thought Bud did OK in the US and China. It has 50% market share in the US; in China they had the acqusition of Harbin beer, and 27% stake in Tsingtao beer. But I was wrong. It appears to me Bud large brewer and a few large brands (American way of business, grow the brand, standarize), was not growing it as fast as InBev’s many small brands strategy.
The impact to St. Louis
If InBev does buy Bud, the impact can be felt in two ways: economical and emotional. Probablly more on the latter side.
1) Economy: Bud employs 6,000 people locally in St. Louis headquarter and brewing, packaging plants. It’s unlikely InBev will layoff significant number of positions, at least not that fast. I heard St. Louis city mayor Slay is asking shareholder to withold approval, considering the impact to St. Louis economy. I think that’s a laughable plead, because shareholders are capitalists, their goal is profit, not charity.
2) Emotional: Bud is deeply embeded in local community, from the brewing musuem, grants farm, to supporting numerous local charity/arts organizations. I think those things can be put to back burner to new owner if InBev take over happens.
Did you notice Cindy McCain, the wife of republican presidential nominee, got her fortune because her family is one of the largest Bud distributor in Arizona?