I went to the Cleveland Indians game Sunday. Perfect day. Great game. The Indians won. But when you’re blogging you’re never really off the clock.
Here’s what I mean. The scoreboard at the Jake (oops, refuse to remember the new stadium name) proudly displays a Budweiser logo that appears to extend from left field to center. So what was I thinking about? A frosty brew on a warm, sunny day. Nah. I was thinking that Budweiser — actually Anheuser-Busch — is in the throes of a hostile takeover attempt by InBev, the world’s largest brewer and maker of Stella Artois, Beck’s and Bass.
It’s a deal currently valued at some $46.4 billion. But even at that it appears that the Busch family, which controls a lot but apparently not a majority of the stock, is finding the transaction hard to swallow. That from a public relations perspective raises some issues. And Jim Horton, on his blog, Online Public Relations Thoughts, gets right to the heart of the matter in a post, Tough Decisions.
“The CEO of brewer, Anheuser-Busch, faces a tough decision. The company has always been dominated by one family, even though it is publicly held. The family has over many decades reinforced the perception that it is a family company. Now comes an all-cash bid to shareholders that will be hard for the family to turn down. It will be interesting if the family goes quietly or if it decides to mount a communications defense. Either way, the CEO is under pressure. Do what is best for shareholders or do what is best for the family?”
Yahoo faced a somewhat similar situation recently — as it considered a bid from Microsoft, not once but several times. In the end, Yahoo struck a deal with Google that allows the company to remain independent — but arguably was not in the best interest of shareholders. Here’s Joe Nocera’s take on this in The New York Times Saturday in his column titled “Oh Jerry, It’s No Longer Your Baby.
To: Jerry Yang
From: Joe Nocera
Re: Shafting Yahoo’s Shareholders
Congratulations — you pulled it off. You got Microsoft to walk away from your beloved Yahoo for good. The final word went out on Thursday. There isn’t going to be any megamerger. No smaller deal to sell your search business, or take a minority stake, either. As Yahoo’s co-founder and chief executive, you’re undoubtedly thrilled. But your shareholders sure aren’t.
Ouch. Well, I guess we’ll see what happens with Budweiser and Anheuser-Busch. And I guess part of me is rooting for the Busch family on this one. Yahoo? Well, does it really matter if it is part of the evil empire (Microsoft) or on its own battling anti-trust issues related to its deal with Google? Nah. But Budweiser. The Great American Lager. That seems like it should be right up there with Mom, apple pie and Chevrolet. You know. Things that defined this country back when the Indians last won the World Series. (Go ahead. Google it. Or Yahoo it.) InBev is based in Belgium. Do they even play baseball in Belgium?
Anyway, I couldn’t find any Budweiser at the Jake Sunday.
So I had a Harp. Actually several. Harp is made by Diageo, a multinational brewer headquartered in London.
So it goes.