King of American Beers May Head Overseas

The so-called King of Beers may be moving its throne overseas as the Anheuser-Busch Corp., which produces Budweiser beer, considers a takeover offer from Belgium-Brazilian beer company InBev.

If the deal goes through, it would create the world's largest beer company and become the third-largest foreign acquisition of a U.S. company in history. But the proposition is already facing major obstacles with opponents, who claim such a union would force American jobs overseas along with the ownership of the 132-year-old American icon.

Missouri Republican Gov. Matt Blunt said he opposed the deal, and directed the Missouri Department of Economic Development to see if there was a way to halt the sale of the St. Louis-based company.


"I am strongly opposed to the sale of Anheuser-Busch, and today's offer to purchase the company is deeply troubling to me," Blunt said in a statement.

Anheuser-Busch CEO August Busch IV, whose great-great-grandfather started the company, told his beer distributors that a takeover wouldn't happen "on his watch."

Web sites have sprung up across the Internet, objecting to the takeover on patriotic grounds.

But the relative weakness of the U.S. dollar has made foreign takeovers of U.S. entities less expensive.

"It is a slippery slope. We've been on it for a very long time. The dollar has been effectively collapsing against major currencies," CNN talk show host Lou Dobbs said on "Good Morning America" today. "The market basket of world currencies, led by the euro and yen, which have been dominating the dollar, combine that with our economic slowdown and it's not only America for sale, it's for sale at fire sale prices."


Still, the potential merger could mean big bucks for Anheuser-Busch, which makes Budweiser, Michelob and Bud Light, the nation's largest owned and operated beer distributorship. InBev, which produces the popular beers Labatts and Stella, is offering a price of $46 billion.

Dobbs said that while the idea of creating jobs abroad to boost America's economy may seem like an upside, it has a backlash.

"I guess you consider an upside. But the downside, we've run 33 consecutive years of trade deficits, have $6.5 trillion trade debt, and we are borrowing $3 billion to support our runaway consumption economy on foreign imports. These trade policies are in effect bankrupting the country, which is perhaps acceptable for some in this generation but disastrous for the next generation of Americans," he said.

The Dollar Effect

Dobbs said part of what made the proposed sale and others like it possible was the sluggish U.S. dollar.

The Anheuser-Busch proposal is just the latest in a series of foreign investors eyeing everything American.

The Chrysler Building, a symbol of American ingenuity and long-time New York City landmark, has piqued the interest of the Abu Dhabi Investment Council. It's currently negotiating for 75 percent of the building's shares for an asking price of $800 million.

New York City's Flatiron Building, which was built on a triangle in lower Manhattan, was purchased recently by an Italian company.

"When you put it all together, you have a weak dollar, a strong euro. You have Asian economies that are doing quite well," said Wall Street Journal reporter Dennis Berman. "They are all here buying luxury goods at Bloomingdale's, but they are also here buying companies. America is on sale."

But Dobbs said not all mergers are the same.

"I think you have to maintain, absolutely, a national ownership of strategic assets," he said. "It doesn't matter to me if it's a British firm, Middle Eastern, Asian or European company. The fact is United States must maintain control of its strategic assets."