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Web site aims to block Anheuser-Busch takeover

Friday, June 6, 2008 | 12:03 p.m. CDT; updated 11:14 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

ST. LOUIS — A new Web site is trying to block the rumored takeover of Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. by Belgium-based brewer InBev SA, playing on patriotic fervor to stop an iconic American firm from slipping into foreign hands.

The Web site, SaveBudweiser.com, encourages visitors to contact elected officials and Anheuser-Busch shareholders to discourage the deal. It features an online petition, “To Save Our Beer,” and claims to have more than 18,000 signatures.

“We don’t want another American icon turned over to a foreign company; we want the motto to remain, ‘The Great American Lager,’,” the petition says.

It is unclear who is behind the Web site, which claims not to be affiliated with Anheuser-Busch. The site is registered and hosted by a company in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The identity of the Web site administrators is not listed, and the administrators did not return an e-mail seeking comment.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported earlier this week that the Web site was launched by a couple in Florida who live near a member of the Busch family.

The Web site reflects discontent that has flourished since European media outlets published reports late last month that InBev might offer up to $48 billion for Anheuser-Busch. Concern has been particularly strong in Anheuser-Busch’s hometown, where the company employs 6,000 people and gives to a wide variety of local charities.

Both Anheuser-Busch and InBev have declined comment on any potential deal.

Analysts say it could be difficult for Anheuser-Busch executives to deny an offer if InBev makes it. InBev’s bid equals about $65 per share for Anheuser-Busch’s stock, a steep premium over Friday morning’s share price of $57.81.

Still, the deal might become a political issue during an election year when voters are anxious about the economy and wary of overseas investment. That’s clearly a sentiment being stoked by the site.

“Anheuser-Busch is a huge supporter of our military and their families both here and abroad and is ranked in the ‘Top 50 Military-Friendly Employers,’” the site says. “Recently in the news, talks of a hostile take over of the company have been prevalent. Let’s band together as one voice and try to save more than just our beer.”


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