Table of Contents

The Global Brewery Industry

The Global Brewery Industry

Markets, Strategies, and Rivalries

New Horizons in International Business series

Edited by Jens Gammelgaard and Christoph Dörrenbächer

This unique book explores some of the key topics of international business through the context of a global industry, focusing on the challenges brewery companies face as they operate in globalized markets. It examines the strategies of individual firms to develop markets and explores new insights into recent company rivalries, both globally and locally. In addition, it offers detailed analysis of some of the major players in the industry through longitudinal studies.

Chapter 10: The demise of Anheuser-Busch: arrogance, hubris and strategic weakness in the face of intense internationalization

Ian M. Taplin, Jens Gammelgaard, Christoph Dörrenbächer and Mike Geppert

Subjects: business and management, international business


Anheuser-Busch (A-B) began operations in 1852 in St Louis, Missouri (as the Bavarian Brewery) and has held the position of industry leader in the US since 1957. It has been run, but not controlled, by the Busch family since its founding. Despite wielding considerable influence and being able to appoint family members to the chief executive officer (CEO) position, the Busch family nonetheless owned only 4 per cent of the company’s stock and in that respect ultimately lacked authority and the requisite control that could have allowed them to counter the moves that subsequently undermined their ‘rule’. By the time the company was taken over in 2008, following a year of on-and-off negotiations, it was ultimately the A-B board that finally agreed to an offer of $70 a share from In-Bev SA/ NV and it was submitted for shareholder approval which subsequently came at the end of the year. The acquisition cost In-Bev $53 bn (€33 bn) and gave them prime position in the world’s most profitable beer market but also marked the end of A-B’s 150 years of independence. The events that precipitated this takeover surprised many, but for others it was the inevitable nail in the coffin of inefficiency, arrogance and the failure to react to an emerging global marketplace when domestic beer sales were declining.

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