In 2008, the Board of Directors and shareholders of Anheuser Busch agreed to be acquired by a Belgian Brewer (InBev). Prior to the merger, InBev made many pledges to AB regarding how the company would operate after the merger, how its employees would be treated, and so on. With some stipulations, the U.S. Government agreed to allow the merger.
Since the merger, InBev has laid off a significant number of Anheuser Busch employees, most of whom worked at the St. Louis headquarters. Where the merger created duplication of job duties, those being terminated have to-date been from AB, not InBev. There is a great deal of speculation and trepidation around the St. Louis area about the long-term fate of the remaining employees, as well as worry about how the new company will view the many and varied civic contributions the company has made to St. Louis and the many other U.S. areas in which it has operations.
View 1 – AB acted as a well-managed business that takes the actions necessary to remain competitive in a very competitive market. If AB had not approved the merger, its profits and stock price would have fallen, and investment capital would have fled the company. As difficult as the decision was, AB operates in a very competitive environment and owes its stockholders the best return it can provide.
View 2 – The decision to sell the company was both short-sighted and, ultimately, a bad business decision. Any short term benefits AB stockholders reaped from the merger will be more than offset by U.S. job losses, lower tax revenues for States and the U.S. Government, and damage to the U.S. communities in which the company operates. Employees whose employers are loyal to them during difficult times repay that loyalty to the company through hard work. Employees who view themselves as economic pawns to be added or discarded as needed will feel only a marginal commitment to the new AB and their work performance will reflect the negative opinion they hold of their employer.
Let’s hear your thoughts. Don’t just tell us what you think personally, but bring Managerial Economic theory to bear on this issue.