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Dethroning the King: The Hostile Takeover of Anheuser-Busch, an American Icon

ISBN: 978-0-470-59270-0
408 pages
October 2010
Dethroning the King: The Hostile Takeover of Anheuser-Busch, an American Icon (0470592702) cover image
How the King of Beers collapsed without a fight and what it means for America's place in the post-Recession world

How did InBev, a Belgian company controlled by Brazilians, take over one of America's most beloved brands with scarcely a whimper of opposition? Chalk it up to perfect timing—and some unexpected help from powerful members of the Busch dynasty, the very family that had run the company for more than a century. In Dethroning the King, Julie MacIntosh, the award-winning financial journalist who led coverage of the takeover for the Financial Times, details how the drama that unfolded at Anheuser-Busch in 2008 went largely unreported as the world tumbled into a global economic crisis second only to the Great Depression. Today, as the dust settles, questions are being asked about how the "King of Beers" was so easily captured by a foreign corporation, and whether the company's fall mirrors America's dwindling financial and political dominance as a nation.

  • Discusses how the takeover of Anheuser-Busch will be seen as a defining moment in U.S. business history
  • Reveals the critical missteps taken by the Busch family and the Anheuser-Busch board
  • Argues that Anheuser-Busch had a chance to save itself from InBev's clutches, but infighting and dysfunctionality behind the scenes forced it to capitulate

From America's heartland to the European continent to Brazil, Dethroning the King is the ultimate corporate caper and a fascinating case study that's both wide reaching and profound.

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Cast of Characters.

Author's Note.

Prologue.

Chapter 1: The Game Is Afoot.

Chapter 2: Crazy and Lazy at Loggerheads.

Chapter 3: The Colossus.

Chapter 4: Selling the American Dream.

Chapter 5: The Fourth Abides.

Chapter 6: The Hunter's Frozen Trigger Finger.

Chapter 7: A Babe in the Woods.

Chapter 8: The Old Gobi Desert Trick.

Chapter 9: Mr. Brito Goes to Washington.

Chapter 10: Angry Bedfellows.

Chapter 11: The Board: August, August, and Augusta.

Chapter 12: The Montagues and the Busches.

Chapter 13: A Seller from "Hello".

Chapter 14: Put Up or Shut Up.

Chapter 15: A Long Way from St. Louis.

Chapter 16: A Toast on Both Sides.

Chapter 17: Cash Out or Hunker Down.

Epilogue.

Notes.

Acknowledgments.

About the Author.

Index.

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JULIE MACINTOSH, an award-winning financial journalist, led the Financial Times's coverage of the takeover of Anheuser-Busch as its U.S. Mergers and Acquisitions Correspondent. She also covered the near-collapse of the global banking system while on the mergers beat and, before that, wrote for the newspaper's influential "Lex" column. Prior to joining the Financial Times, she spent six years as a reporter and correspondent for Reuters, and in 2003, was named one of NewsBios's "Top 30 Business Journalists Under 30." MacIntosh studied as a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in business journalism at Columbia University and earned a master's in journalism from Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism and a master's of business administration from Columbia's Graduate School of Business. She received her undergraduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She regularly appears on CNBC and MSNBC.
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"A Foolish Book Recommendation for July." (The Motley Fool)

"How the Busch clan lost control of an iconic American beer company. If ever an American company represented the land of milk and honey for corporate executives it was Anheuser-Busch . . . For decades a palace of well-paid vice presidents in cushy offices presided over the manufacture of Budweiser, America's beer, in that most American of cities, St. Louis. 'Few companies on earth were more evocative of America, with all of its history and iconography, than Anheuser-Busch,' writes veteran Financial Times journalist Julie MacIntosh in her strenuously reported book, "Dethroning the King: The Hostile Takeover of Anheuser-Busch, an American Icon." As the title suggests, the reign of the King of Beers ended in the summer of 2008, when the company merged with the Brazil-based brewing giant InBev, an outfit about as culturally different from Anheuser-Busch as one could imagine. At $70 a share, or $52 billion, it was the largest all-cash acquisition in history and even more noteworthy because it occurred during the gathering storm of a global financial collapse. . . When growth-hungry InBev arrives on the scene, a company so lean and cost-conscious that they're called the Walmart of brewers, all hell breaks loose at the complacent Anheuser-Busch headquarters. The Brazilians make a pitch of $43 billion in what's known on Wall Street as a "bear hug"—an offer so generous that the recipient can't refuse. But A-B's board does refuse, triggering weeks of moves and counter-moves and endless end-gaming by the two companies. Ms. MacIntosh relates every gambit in crisp, scene-by-scene detail." (The Wall Street Journal)

"Ms. MacIntosh . . . earns extra credit for staying on the Anheuser-InBev case despite considerable macrocosmic distractions. . . The author's persistence pays off in her account of the Busch family's searing internecine strife. . . 'Dethroning the King' makes for a fine yarn with a cautionary message about American business in the age of globalization. InBev began laying off workers less than a month after the deal formally closed, Ms. MacIntosh reports. Maybe the next time a foreign entity tries to acquire a major American family company, the public will take notice before it becomes a fait accompli." (The New York Times)

“There’s a lesson for all in book on brewing. . . a great read.” (Morning Advertiser)

Dethroning the King, . . . is the compelling play-by-play of InBev's takeover of Anheuser-Busch. Give MacIntosh a Stella Artois for her excellent reporting.” (Stltoday.com)

"Dethroning the King is a brutally detailed look at the hostile takeover of Anheuser-Busch, the legendary icon that at one time was the epitome of American business success. It is a story that may well go down in American business history as one of the defining moments of this era. [An] insightful and brilliantly written work. As American business continues to dramatically change, this compelling book should be on every businessperson's reading list." (Business Lexington)

A Library Journal Best Business Book 2010

“In a narrative that reads as fast as any fiction thriller, Financial Times journalist MacIntosh details the 2008 takeover of the iconic Anheuser-Busch brewing company by Belgian corporation InBev, focusing particularly on the company's importance to the St. Louis region; its management, or lack thereof, by the Busch family (particularly the August Busches III and IV); and the broader unsettled economic climate of 2008.”

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