Anheuser-Busch wasted no time today in crafting a response to potential suitor InBev’s preliminary move to replace the American brewer’s existing board of directors with InBev’s own nominees, including several friendly members of the Busch family. Among the expected discussions about a low-balled asking price and how the company would restructure was this curious tidbit.
Shareholders also should be aware that InBev, through a subsidiary, has a significant partnership with the government of Cuba to produce and distribute products in Cuba. InBev has not commented on how that would impact business with Anheuser‑Busch’s customers, nor on its ability to complete an acquisition under U.S. laws that affect acquisitions of U.S. companies by foreign companies.
Hmmm, that was a little unexpected. A little research shows that the offending, Castro loving beer brand is Bucanero, the second largest brewer in Cuba. The brewery was part of a joint venture between Labatt, which later became part of InBev, and the Cuban government in 1997. That’s right, InBev bought a brewery that several years earlier had set up a brewery in Cuba.
Helms-Burton legalese aside, one would hope that A-B has more defensive options in its pocket than a flat nationalistic appeal to its shareholders, which include many institutional investors. One trade paper suggests that InBev’s Cuban beer business represents a little over three-one thousandths (.0003) of a percent of InBev’s global beer volume.
This may be easier than Carlos Brito first thought.