The directors of St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch are reportedly considering a new offer from InBev to purchase A-B shares at $70 each -— a substantial increase over InBev’s first offer and what may be a good deal for many of A-B’s shareholders.
Some reports also suggest that A-B’s leaders want to do the deal at the higher amount — and, if the two sides can agree on terms, the deal will happen. Without a federal regulatory issue at stake, there is nothing to bar it.
Anheuser-Busch is a St. Louis icon. I am worried about the impact of an acquisition on the brewery’s 6,000 St. Louis workers and on the many civic and philanthropic ventures that count on AB for help. The more expensive the deal, the deeper the cuts may eventually be.
Looking through recent history is instructive. There have been plenty of mergers and acquisitions involving St. Louis companies. Many of them have eventually meant more jobs and investment in St. Louis; others, have not. The chief executives of some of the best corporate citizens live in other cities or states. So, too, do some of the least engaged. Many have kept their promises; some, have not.
InBev has asked for my support. If they purchase Anheuser-Busch, they will certainly have it. But my ultimate brand loyalty is to St. Louis. My enthusiasm for InBev will ultimately depend on how many of A-B’s historic commitments to the community it will keep.