InBev Goes to Washington
June 24, 2008 - Washington lawmakers can do little, if anything, to stop InBev's proposed $47.5 billion takeover of Anheuser-Busch Cos. - effectively nullifying any 'grassroots' effort by Bud consumers to rally support for their favorite beer.
Meanwhile, just in case and showing that they are carefully covering all the bases, InBev has hired a phalanx of lobbyists and public relations consultants to help navigate the potential political minefield.
Ratcheting up its bid for AB, the beer giant recently hired at least two Washington lobbying firms and two politically-wired PR shops.
Among those helping InBev with strategy in Washington: Ex-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., and John Breaux, D-La.; Sean Richardson, a one-time Gephardt policy aide, and the Glover Park Group, a media firm that has strong ties to Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.
There's little question that, even if lawmakers can't stop the move, it's a savvy business move for InBev to try to ease political opposition as it woos the real decision-makers: AB's board and stockholders.
InBev's new hires reflect the significance of the firm's proposed takeover and the strong level of political opposition. Indeed, InBev CEO Carlos Brito got an earful from Missouri lawmakers as he made the rounds this week.
"I told him É 'This Bud's not for you'," said Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo. That's one heck of a shrewd political statement that works well with constituents, but the bottom line is, InBev may just end up with a lot more than Bud.