Anheuser-Busch: The Deal That Sleeps With the Fishes

If relationship with Modelo hadn't soured on fishing trip, Belgians might have been staved off
By Lev Weinstein,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2008 11:40 AM CDT
A Budweiser truck turns into Anheuser-Busch's Columbus brewery Tuesday, July 15, 2008 in Columbus, Ohio.    (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
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(Newser) – Anyone mourning the takeover of Anheuser Busch by Belgium's InBev might want to know that the real turning point in that battle occurred more than a decade ago. On a fishing trip. In Mexico. The last real chance to outmaneuver InBev was lost when the US brewer failed to get a controlling stake in Mexico’s Grupo Modelo, writes David Kesmodel in the Wall Street Journal. And chances for that, say industry sources, vanished when former A-B CEO August Busch III decided to take a call instead of landing a humongous marlin.

The trip was intended to cement relations with the Corona makers and foster a deal, but Busch botched the diplomacy, handing off his rod to a startled Modelo exec who happened to be a major shareholder. Barking orders to land the marlin expeditiously, Busch cut short the trip after a day, leaving relations with the Modelo team in tatters. They improved over the years, Kesmodel writes, but not fast enough to stave off the InBev foray.