Anheuser-Busch news updates

• From The Times of London:

The beer giant Anheuser-Busch may fend off any unsolicited bid from rival InBev by snapping up 50% of the Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo, maker of Corona.

Last week it emerged that InBev, the Belgian maker of Becks and Stella Artois, was considering a $50 billion offer for Anheuser, Budweiser’s parent company. Snapping up the 50% of Modelo that Anheuser does not already own would cost the company between $10 billion and $15 billion and could make Anheuser too expensive for InBev to afford, analysts say.

InBev is the world’s largest brewer by sales volume. Anheuser-Busch, the long-time giant of American brewers, holds more than 50% of the domestic market. A tie-up would create one of the world’s top five consumer-goods groups and would be the largest deal ever in the beverages industry.

InBev faces tough opposition. August Busch IV, who took over as chief executive in late 2006, is believed to have rebuffed an informal overture from Inbev last October. In April he told beer distributors that the company started by his great-great grandfather, Adolphus Busch, would not be taken over “on my watch.”

The Busch family controls only 4% of the shares, but it has tight control over the business with a board of loyal and long-serving executives. However, a $50 billion takeover offer might win over shareholders.

• From Reuters news service:

Anheuser Busch Inc. and a local distributor have agreed to pay $21 million to victims of a Rhode Island nightclub fire that killed more than 100 people, the latest in a string of settlements that total more than $120 million.

Court papers filed on Friday showed the brewer of Budweiser and Bud Light agreed to pay $5 million, while its Rhode Island-based distributor, McLaughlin & Moran, would pay $16 million. The companies did not admit wrongdoing but were named in the lawsuits because plaintiffs representing those killed and injured in one of the deadliest blazes in U.S. history said the two companies promoted the concert.

The blaze, sparked by fireworks that accompanied a show by the rock band Great White on Feb. 20, 2003, at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, RI, also injured more than 200 people. The settlement, filed in U.S. District Court in Rhode Island, must be approved by a judge.

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