Synopses & Reviews
Once upon a time, the "King of Beers" ruled the worldBudweiser controlled 52 percent of the U.S. beer market, and Anheuser-Busch was the world's top brewer. Then, economic hardship fell upon the land of milk and honey (and baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet), and the King became a pawn that easily fell into the hands of foreign interests. Today, the Great American Lager is no more. Anheuser-Busch's fairy tale is over, and as Dethroning the King: The Hostile Takeover of Anheuser-Busch, an American Icon details, the legendary company collapsed in spectacular fashion. How it all played out behind the scenes is the real storyand it's one people should get used to hearing as foreign companies set their sights on America's most popular brands, taking advantage of a weakened American economy and preying on American corporations that have for far too long viewed themselves as "too big to be taken over."
In the summer of 2008investment bank Bear Stearns had already collapsed; lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were teetering on the verge of insolvency; financial services firm Lehman Brothers would soon declare the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history; and Anheuser-Busch had just received a takeover bid from foreign brewing giant InBev. As Dethroning the King describes, InBev's timing wasn't just lucky; it was perfect.
Anheuser-Busch, which had been ruled for decades by iron-fisted scion August A. Busch III, had just handed the reins to his son, August A. Busch IVand young August's leadership was drawing lukewarm reviews from investors and even his own board of directors. Americans all across the country, meanwhile, were too distracted by their imploding personal finances to be concerned about Anheuser-Busch's fate. Many Americans had never even heard of global brewing behemoth InBev, and they didn't realize Budweiser had come under foreign attack until it was too late.
On November 18, 2008, the stock of Anheuser-Busch, known for its "BUD" ticker symbol, stopped trading, and one of America's oldest, most beloved brands lost its American-owned status. In Dethroning the King, Julie MacIntoshthe U.S. Mergers and Acquisitions Correspondent who led the Financial Times's coverage of the takeover of Anheuser-Buschtakes you behind the scenes to tell the inside story of the King of Beers' 150-year rise to power and its seven-week fall from grace.
"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.”
The takeover of one of the most well-known and beloved American brands, second only to Disney in popularity, by a Belgian company actually controlled by Brazilians is a fascinating drama that went largely unreported in 2008, coming as it did in the midst of a economic crisis of unimaginable proportions. When the dust settles, there will be questions, if not curiosity in how it was pulled off and how Americans let one of their most treasured brands be captured by foreigners. An American family dynasty will surely take the blame for their poor management, familial infighting, and just plain bizarre behavior. Once lauded by the beer industry (from factory workers to distributors) and virtually the entire state of Missouri, the Busch family name is now mud, Augie III despised and Augie IV a laughingstock. From the very local heart of the heartland to the European continent to Brazil, the story of the takeover of Anheuser-Busch by InBev, a Belgian company actually controlled by Brazilians, is fascinating, wide-reaching, and profound. It presaged America's dwindling political and financial dominance, coming just before the economic crisis of 2008 exploded, taking down great U.S. financial institutions and virtually the entire U.S. auto industry. Few even noticed that Bud, the king of beers (and Rolling Rock and Michelob, and so on) had been captured in the midst of such carnage. Julie MacIntosh, the leading reporter worldwide covering the story, toiled away breaking news and breaking down sources. Much of her reporting for the FT ended up being cut to give space to the economic crisis, at the time a far larger story. Now that things are starting to return to normal, questions are being asked but the news cycle has moved on. Now is the perfect time for a book that uncovers the story behind the takeover to show exactly how InBev pulled it off and the missteps the Busch family and AB board made. Sure to be a great narrative of a classic dynasty taken down, this book will also become required reading in business courses worldwide. As business has become all about brands, then getting the right brands is the new game of business. Dethroning the King is a corporate caper and a classic case study in how to get the brand.
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.
Macintosh looks at the amazing true story behind the siege of America's favorite beer company, and explains how InBev, a Belgian company controlled by Brazilians, took over one of America's most beloved brands after barely a whimper of a fight.
Praise for DETHRONING THE KING
"Julie MacIntosh has given us not just an anatomy of a deal, but an anatomy of a company, a community, and a family. From cover to cover, it is a compelling story bound to be acclaimed as the business book of the year."
—MARTIN LIPTON, Founding Partner of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
"This book is not just a terrific read about the decline of a storied American company. It is also an acute analysis that conveys important lessons about the ills of American business in general."
—BRUCE GREENWALD, Robert Heilbrunn Professor of Finance and Asset Management, Columbia Business School
"Dethroning the King is hard to put down—it's a must read. Julie MacIntosh vividly captures the many twists and turns of this company's long history and the fascinating people who shaped its development."
—NELSON PELTZ, CEO and Founding Partner, Trian Fund Management, L.P.
"In this powerful story, Julie MacIntosh does a great job of giving life to an epoch corporate event and the story of a legendary family. The parallels with today's ongoing corporate conflicts are many. The tale is fascinating and remains relevant."
—ROBERT F. GREENHILL, Founder and Chairman, Greenhill & Co., Inc.
About the Author
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.
Table of Contents
Cast of Characters.
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.
About the Author.