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How did InBev, a Belgian company controlled by Brazilians, take over one of America’s most beloved brands after barely a whimper of a fight? Timing, and some unexpected help from powerful members of the Busch dynasty, the very family that had run the company for more than a century.

In Dethroning the King, the award-winning financial journalist who led coverage of the takeover for the Financial Times details how the drama that unfolded at Anheuser-Busch in 2008 went largely unreported as the world tumbled into a global economic crisis second only to the Great Depression. Today, as the dust settles, questions are being asked about how the “King of Beers” was so easily captured by a foreign corporation, and whether the company’s fall mirrors America’s dwindling financial and political dominance.

  • Discusses how the takeover of Anheuser-Busch will be seen as a defining moment in U.S. business history
  • Reveals the critical missteps taken by the Busch family and the Anheuser-Busch board
  • Argues that Anheuser-Busch had a chance to save itself from InBev’s clutches, but strong forces behind the scenes forced it to capitulate

From the very heart of America’s heartland to the European continent to Brazil, Dethroning the King is the ultimate corporate caper and a fascinating case study that’s both wide-reaching and profound.


I’ve been reading more non-fiction in the past year than I have in my entire life. What Julie MacIntosh has managed to do with this work is to allow an outside view into the dense world of international business. There’s still many stories to tell out of the Republican fueled Economic Crash of 2008. MacIntosh takes a singular view of the reporting disorder that resulted and how it caused InBev’s seizure of Anheuser-Busch to go unnoticed. In a world where everything is reported and covered to death, you can only sneak something out of the house when there’s too much nose in the front room. But, why did the Buschs help InBev? That was the most engrossing detail of all.


In late 2006, Busch IV was about to become CEO, and wanted to ink a joint venture with InBev. This would’ve made Anheuser-Busch the exclusive U.S. importer of InBev’s European brands. This would be his first big initiative, and help cement his CEO spot. He succeeded, but failed to include the standstill clause Busch III wanted that prevents partners from making moves toward an unsolicited takeover. Busch III allowed it to proceed at the board level, nonetheless. The agreement allowed InBev people to see the excessive corporate overhead and where to make cuts.

In the end Anheuser-Busch went for seventy dollars a share and if you are asking why InBev wanted to purchase Anheuser-Busch, perhaps it could be best summed up by MacIntosh when she states that Busch III brilliantly realized that the key to selling his company’s beer was advertising and he was involved in the advertising up to his eyeballs. “He knew the criticality of advertising to the brands. Budweiser was created by the advertising. What could’ve went wrong? Well, the geniuses lost control of their company and their foothold on the NYSE.

Unless you’re a white-collar bean counter, it’s hard to understand the true horror of this action. The American CEOs before and after the crash were brash risk-takers with shitty track records. Not everyone is a Gates, Jobs or a Forbes. Just ask the people who lost their life savings with Worldcom or Enron. While it’s easy to sympathize with Busch IV’s move to partner up and expand the Busch company to a global front…he was doing it with nothing to back up his future stakes. Overstating one’s value and hoping for the best is no way to do business. When you read the book, you can’t help but shake your head at how disconnected the modern CEO is from what makes basic economic sense.

In the end, this book stands as a testament to the true horror of the modern American economy. Nothing is certain and any bad decision can ruin your company forever. The days of tycoons and barons are nearly gone, so what we have left are scavengers that pick at the bones of once might beasts. One has to truly shake the hand of InBev and their ability to make the best out of another’s foul-up. It’s just sad that it had to happen to an American company. Oh well, that’s the price you pay for thinking that you’re too big to fail.



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