Anheuser-Busch won't say when board will meet on InBev

Thursday, June 19, 2008

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Anheuser-Busch's top financial officer on Thursday refused to comment on a report that the company's board of directors will meet this week for the first time since InBev SA announced its $46 billion bid to acquire the nation's biggest brewer. By Jim Salter.

The Financial Times reported that the board will consider a variety of options, including the valuation of InBev's bid. The publication reported that some board members may argue that the $65 per share offer is too low. Anheuser-Busch shares declined 55 cents to $61.35 in midday trading.

W. Randolph Baker, vice president and chief financial officer for St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch, said in a statement, "We understand the high interest surrounding InBev's unsolicited and nonbinding proposal. Anheuser-Busch's inability to comment on it at this point should not be interpreted as support for, or opposition to the proposal.

"InBev and others have been discussing the proposal at length, but the Anheuser-Busch board must take the time necessary to conduct a full and fair analysis in consultation with its advisers before addressing the proposal publicly in detail. We will not speculate on what the board's response will be."

Several Missouri politicians have come out in opposition to the deal, including both of Missouri's U.S. senators, Republican Kit Bond and Democrat Claire McCaskill. Gov. Matt Blunt, a Republican, also opposes the sale to InBev and has sought review from the Federal Trade Commission over concerns it would create a near-monopoly in the U.S. beer market and damage the St. Louis and Missouri economies.

Asked about the merger while touring flood-stricken Hannibal, Mo., on Wednesday, Blunt said he had no interest in meeting with InBev leaders to discuss the proposal.

Anheuser-Busch makes the nation's top-selling light and regular beers, Bud Light and Budweiser. The company has been making beer here since the mid-19th century.

Belgian-based InBev announced its bid for Anheuser-Busch on June 11. The beer industry has been consolidating in recent years amid rising ingredient costs and stale demand in the United States.

Anheuser-Busch employs 6,000 people in St. Louis, and many workers are worried InBev would cut jobs if the companies consolidate.

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