InBev looking for a cold Bud?

The Wall Street Journal on May 28 reported talk of an unsolicited offer for St. Louis’ Anheuser-Busch Cos. by Belgian brewer InBev NV.

A deal probably would top $45 billion, or $63 a share, the newspaper quoted analysts as saying. A-B’s stock price earlier in the week had been $56.75 per share.

But the Journal also admitted, “A host of factors could derail a bid: the cultural differences between the two brewers; potential unrest from Anheuser employees and distributors; and even protests by politicians over foreign ownership of a U.S. icon during an election year.”

A-B’s management is cool to the idea, the Journal said. Strongly opposed is the Teamsters union, which represents about 7,500 of Anheuser's 30,000 employees. The newspaper speculated the union could enlist the help of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, the likely Democratic presidential nominee whom the union endorsed earlier this year.

InBev, created by the 2005 merger of Belgian brewer Interbrew with Brazil’s AmBev, owns a host of Belgian and South American brands, as well as Germany’s Beck’s and Canada’s Labatt. It’s the world's second-largest brewer by volume after SABMiller PLC. A-B is third.

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