InBev announces major job cuts in St. Louis

Monday, December 8, 2008
**FILE** In this June 11, 2008 file photo, a display along one of the buildings in the Anheuser-Busch brewery complex shows Clydesdales pulling a hitch of Budweiser products in St. Louis, Mo. Anheuser-Busch-InBev said Monday, Dec. 8, 2008, it will cut 1,400 U.S. jobs. (AP Photo/James A. Finley, File)

ST. LOUIS (AP) — This region's economy took a hit Monday when Anheuser-Busch InBev announced job cuts for 1,400 U.S. workers, with 75 percent of those job losses coming from the St. Louis area.

Belgium-based InBev closed its $52 billion buyout of Anheuser-Busch in November, creating the largest beer company in the world.

The city, long known as the home of Budweiser and Busch beers, had expected economic ramifications from the buyout but that didn't make it any easier when the cuts were announced.

The combination caused overlaps between parts of the two companies, which the brewery said drove some of the reductions.

Anheuser-Busch president David Peacock said in a letter to employees that the Missouri cuts would be at headquarters in St. Louis, as well as at offices in Sunset Hills in St. Louis County. The primary job cuts will be in engineering, information technology and other corporate positions, he said.

Most of the layoffs will come this year and are in addition to more than 1,000 people companywide who were already going to retire before the end of this year. Peacock said 250 open positions will remain unfilled and 415 contractor positions will be eliminated.

"We know this will be very difficult — many good workers who are trusted and valued in the organization will not remain," Peacock wrote to employees.

Laid off workers will receive severance, pension benefits, a year of medical coverage, 2009 vacation pay and outplacement services, he said.

The city of St. Louis said it will do all it can to help the laid off Anheuser-Busch employees. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay called it a "very painful day" for the people who are losing their jobs and for the people who depend on them.

The St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment will provide laid off Anheuser-Busch employees help finding new jobs, going back to school or getting additional training. The agency will also help those who might want to start their own businesses, Slay said in a statement.

Missouri Republican Gov. Matt Blunt said in a statement, "This is obviously horrible news for these workers and their families, and my heart goes out to everyone affected by this announcement."

He has asked the state's Department of Economic Development to examine resources that may help Anheuser-Busch workers to transition to new jobs.

Meanwhile, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley said the brewery's announcement means the region will have to work harder to overcome economic difficulties and to create better opportunities for area residents.

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