(AFP) – Jun 12, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Missouri's governor and a coalition of activists are vowing to fight a proposed takeover of US brewing giant Anheuser-Busch by Belgian-Brazilian giant InBev.
Governor Matt Blunt said in a statement late Wednesday that he found the news of the 46-billion-dollar bid "deeply troubling."
"Anheuser-Busch is a great Missouri company, a great employer, a great corporate citizen and the maker of great products that are enjoyed in Missouri and around the world," he said.
"I am strongly opposed to the sale of Anheuser-Busch."
Blunt noted however that "there is no immediate tool available at the state level" to block the sale, but ordered the state's Department of Economic Development "to explore every option and any opportunity we may have at the state level to help keep Anheuser-Busch where it belongs -- in St. Louis, Missouri."
Meanwhile a website, SaveBudweiser.com, was collecting signatures in an online petition opposing the sale to Belgian-based firm.
"We will need to scream now more than ever to make sure that the board of directors and others involved hear our voices and that we don't want them to accept the offer," said a notice on the website, the operators of which were not identified.
"In addition to great tasting beer, this company has provided thousands of domestic jobs as well as millions of dollars in charitable donations to nonprofit organizations, disaster relief and has a long history of environmental awareness."
As of Thursday, more than 31,000 people had signed the online petition.
Another website, SaveAB.com, collected over 8,000 signatures.
"With your help we can fight the foreign invasion of A-B. We will fight to protect this American treasure. We will take to the Internet, to the streets, to the marble halls of our capitals, whatever it takes to stop the invasion," a statement on the site said.
The top US beermaker acknowledged Wednesday "an unsolicited, non-binding" takeover bid from world leader Inbev and said it would "review the merits" of the offer.
The US firm based in St. Louis, Missouri said the offer was 65 dollars per share in cash, amounting to an estimated 46 billion dollars.
Anheuser-Busch said that its board of directors "will evaluate the proposal carefully and in the context of all relevant factors, including Anheuser-Busch's long-term strategic plan," according to a statement.
With a takeover, InBev, which claims the title of the world's biggest beer maker, would create close to a 100-billion-dollar business in the most ambitious act of corporate consolidation since last year's credit crunch shook the markets.
Anheuser-Busch, which traces its roots to the 1850s, has historically been cool on being sold, with the Busch family playing a major role.
It has "previously publicly forsworn selling the company," said a research note Wednesday from Jonathan Feeney, an analyst at Wachovia Securities.
"No doubt there will be backlash to InBev's offer, especially in a campaign year when there has been considerable rhetoric regarding the protection and preservation of American jobs," said Jeffrey Ham, an analyst at Briefing.com.
"Taking an iconic American brand like Anheuser-Busch overseas will stir the voices of both politicians and brand loyalists, all resisting the acquisition."
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