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

ISBN: 978-1-118-20282-1
272 pages
September 2011
Dethroning the King: The Hostile Takeover of Anheuser-Busch, an American Icon (1118202821) 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 xiii

Author's Note xvii

Prologue 1

Chapter 1: The Game Is Afoot 5

Chapter 2: Crazy and Lazy at Loggerheads 23

Chapter 3: The Colossus 37

Chapter 4: Selling the American Dream 57

Chapter 5: The Fourth Abides 77

Chapter 6: The Hunter's Frozen Trigger Finger 111

Chapter 7: A Babe in the Woods 127

Chapter 8: The Old Gobi Desert Trick 143

Chapter 9: Mr. Brito Goes to Washington 161

Chapter 10: Angry Bedfellows 181

Chapter 11: The Board: August, August, and Augusta 203

Chapter 12: The Montagues and the Busches 241

Chapter 13: A Seller from "Hello" 257

Chapter 14: Put Up or Shut Up 275

Chapter 15: A Long Way from St. Louis 295

Chapter 16: A Toast on Both Sides 311

Chapter 17: Cash Out or Hunker Down 323

Epilogue 341

Notes 355

Acknowledgments 369

About the Author 371

Index 373

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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." She regularly appears on CNBC and MSNBC.
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