American lawyers are weeping into their beers this week over the fate of iconic US beer, Budweiser.
Coming at the same time as the sale of the Chrysler Building to – shock, horror – Arabs, the US’s dirt cheap assets appear to be in danger of disappearing entirely.
As one New York partner involved in cross-border deals put it, “We’re selling America by the pound”.
The beer deal could see the US waving goodbye to one of its most beloved brands for a mere $46bn, with owner (and Skadden client) Anheuser-Busch being fiercely pursued by Belgium brewer, InBev (represented by Sullivan & Cromwell).
The price tag is steep for a few rounds of drinks, for sure. But what price for a US icon? ($46bn apparently). Anheuser-Busch will be discussing this and how to fetch more for Bud at its board meeting this week.
Brands like Bud don’t get sold every day, which is why Anheuser-Busch wants more. But then InBev has got Stella, which is reassuringly expensive.
Clearly the key is brand power. Proctor & Gamble recognised this when it bought Gillette in 2005 for a whopping $57bn. As one New York IP lawyer put it, “Bud is much more than a beer.”
To Americans, Bud is about baseball, hot dogs and the all-American experience, not the price of its shares. Proud Americans will want to hold on to that with a patriotic, ice-cold grip.
What a contrast to dear old Blighty, where the lawyers would just be chuffed to get their hands on a deal this size. Anyone remember Rover?