On a typical day, most of you probably obtain your lunch in one of several ways: ordering it on Seamless, out at a working lunch, or ferreting around the office pantry for a melange of snacks. A good day might involve getting your 11th Chop’t salad for free. If creativity and need to feel alive struck, you’d possibly think about sneaking into the executive dining room and swipe a couple of dinner rolls. But would you ever purchase a business class ticket out of JFK (or whatever your local airport may be), gorge yourself on free delicacies in the lounge, and then reschedule your flight so you could do it all again the next day, and the day after that? You might not, but this genius did: Read more »
It’s a sign of how bad things are that a consultant has to tell you to romance the opposite side’s management. This was apparently the fate of August Busch III (hereafter “der Alte Kaiser”) when he was trying to buy the original minority stake in Grupo Modelo. So he took Modelo’s executives deep-sea fishing in Cabo, which is a good recovery from his earlier obliviousness (but not for hangovers because of the boat’s rocking, trust me).
It’s a sign that things are even worse when you hook a marlin but then decide you’re needed back in the United States. August III, doing something that only an old monarch can think was appropriate, passed the rod off to a Modelo chieftain, Valentin Diez, and ordered him to bring the fish in promptly.* Which is just about impossible.
The net result of the botched expedition was a marlin pardoned by Busch’s imperiousness and a group of Modelo executives permanently embittered against Anheuser for the same reason. Diez told friends that much, while other participants described August III’s attitude “you’ll do it my way or you die.” David Kesmodel thinks of this debacle as the beginning of a rift between the two brewers, the emnity that culminated in Modelo shooting down August IV’s pleas to merge and avoid the rough wooing of InBev. We just think it’s a priceless anecdote about how not to run a company.
*We’ve embarassed ourselves enough times in front of Cabo’s sportfishing guides to know that it’s a rookie mistake to rush bringing the marlin in. You don’t have to be Brian Hunter to know that marlins, like livers, fight for hours before they’re beaten.
–DealBreaker’s second best fisherman, Andrew.
As we reported earlier today, CEO August Busch IV and his board plan to turn down InBev’s $65/share bid for Anheuser-Busch. The Budweiser brewer, which has ignored the offer for the past two weeks, will formally reject the courtship of Carlos Brito while announcing its own strategic plan.
Anheuser-Busch will cut at least $500 million in costs, largely in marketing, and is considering the sale of its Busch Gardens parks. The cuts to be proposed will largely mirror those planned by InBev, and Busch will have to make a tough but critical sell since Anheuser has practically no takeover defenses.
Warren Buffett, whose 4.9% stake in Anheuser is larger than the Busch family’s, chatted with Becky Quick yesterday to deny reports that he had an opinion about the merger, let alone that he had met with August Busch in St. Louis. Buffett remains publicly an agnostic about the offer, calling the upcoming fight “an interesting spectator sport.”
August Busch earlier made a proposal to acquire Modelo Group as a means to make Anheuser too big for InBev to swallow. Anheuser already owns a majority of the Mexican brewer behind swill-grade Corona, but the controlling stake is in the hands of Antonino Fernandez, the ninety -year-old patriarch whose family runs Modelo. Modelo has reportedly refused any talk of surrendering control and has twisted the knife by talking with InBev behind Bud’s back; American news reports have shifted their description of Modelo from “Mexican partner” to “fiercely nationalistic.”
Matt Blunt, governor of Missouri, and both of the state’s senators have made a bipartisan plea for an antitrust review to block the sale. DealBreaker’s on-site research at Anheuser’s St. Louis brewery discovered that Budweiser gained its light-tasting rice-and-barley mix from World War I rationing. While this exonerates Anheuser from the charge of chintzing out on the mix, it further discredits the merits of political meddling in beer and lets us blame Woodrow Wilson for the sorry state of American lager.
-Negra Modelo aficionado Andrew