Experts look to find benefits in Budweiser buyout

Bright side to Anheuser-Busch merger?

| Contributing Reporter

What if a Chinese company owned the New York Yankees?

For many in the Washington University and St. Louis communities, the merger of Belgian brewer InBev and local giant Anheuser-Busch may seem like a similar takeover, according to Olin Business School Professor Glenn MacDonald.

MacDonald, however, argued that the merger may not be as devastating as it seems.

“Anheuser-Busch is not leaving St. Louis by any stretch of the imagination,” MacDonald said. “I would be very surprised if there are any significant changes. There will be some trimming—no doubt about that. But the merger is good for Anheuser-Busch, and therefore it’s good for us.”

Anheuser-Busch agreed to sell itself to InBev on July 13 for $49.91 billion, and hopes to complete the merger by the end of this year.

MacDonald noted that the brewery market will be more concentrated as a result of the merger, meaning more profits, better corporate health and a marker for St. Louis on the global map.

“It’s hard to see how that would hurt us,” he said.

The University issued a statement on the merger, including a history of the institutions’ relationship starting with Adolphus Busch more than 100 years ago all the way through the present. The statement also referred to the many buildings on the Danforth campus named after the company, including Busch Hall, one of the University’s first buildings; Busch III Laboratory of Biology; Anheuser-Busch Hall, home to the School of Law; the dining room in the Charles F. Knight Executive Education Center and funding for facilities within many other existing and new buildings.

“It is safe to say that the landscape of Washington University today—both physically and figuratively—would not be the same without the great and longstanding generosity of Anheuser-Busch and the Busch family,” the statement said.

Donating money for campus buildings and sponsoring student projects, golf tournaments and other events are not the only ways Anheuser-Busch has assisted the University. Records indicate that as of this summer, 300 University graduates work or have worked for Anheuser-Busch, half of whom earned a degree at the Olin Business School and half of whom work in St. Louis.

This summer alone, Anheuser-Busch hired an undergraduate from the business school, five more MBA students as interns and two MBA students for full-time positions.

Former Director of Executive Development and Succession Planning at Anheuser-Busch Lee Konczak said that it is still too early to tell how the merger will play out, and will mostly depend on how the business does. Konczak, however, views the glass as half-full.

Konczak recently joined the University in May as a lecturer in organizational behavior and leadership development.

“The new management said it wanted to remain an active member in the community,” Konczak said. “There’s no data to suggest it will operate very differently. It’s just a change from tradition and history,” he said.

InBev is aware of the history of Anheuser-Busch and its role in St. Louis and the world, as indicated by the decision to use the name Anheuser-Busch InBev.

As an Anheuser-Busch insider, Konczak added that InBev likes to hire recent graduates of business schools and MBA programs, which could produce additional benefits beyond Anheuser-Busch’s current recruitment from the University.

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