Stewardship Counts

For the past few weeks, I have been inundated with calls about InBev’s purchase of Anheuser-Busch.

You can imagine the comments I’ve heard.

There’s the patriotic: “ It’s anti-American!”

There’s the spiritual: “Is there nothing that is sacred anymore?”

There’s the wonkish: “Why didn’t the government step in to prevent this from happening?”

There’s the xenophobic: “These foreign interlopers have no understanding of the American consumer and will lead the brands into decline!”

So what really happened? An astute European marketer saw, with the dollar in sharp decline, that there was an opportunity to acquire one of the gems in all of packaged goods. The price was so reasonable that they would have been crazy not to pursue A-B. These details of the finances frankly bore me. They made a smart investment. Isn’t that what our system has always been about?

As a native New Yorker, I have seen a lot of these types of deals and the ensuing uproar. Over the years, foreign investors have gobbled up some of the most prominent real estate in New York. Rockefeller Center was among the first jewels to be acquired, leading to many other high profile purchases. The culmination of these sales was the Chrysler Building a few months ago. So what has changed? Our skyline still inspires. These buildings are still standing, still have the prestige and aura they always had. Why? Because the new owners manage them well and understand that they have been entrusted with a treasure that is not to be trifled with.

You see, it’s not who owns the property or brand. It is how they take care of those assets. I just don’t believe that, in the end, the consumer will care if InBev is the largest beer company in the world and is located overseas. They just want to have their favorite brew accessible and priced reasonably. The Budweiser family of brews will always be as American as apple pie. There will be transitional logistics, and sadly, some jobs will be eliminated. That is the way of business in all sectors. The beverage industry is not exempt from these realities.

So, instead of running for the hills, let’s raise a glass and toast the good intentions of InBev to keep the Anheuser-Busch name and brands the valued assets they are.