Today’s Wall Street Journal contains a fascinating piece about the possible takeover at Anheuser-Busch.
It’s a marvel of reporting, if only because the reporter apparently persuaded August Busch IV to speak frankly about his family’s history and his relationship to his father. But it’s also newsworthy because it reports on a second battle-in-progress: a behind-the-scenes struggle between a family faction that wants to sell and the group that wants to stand fast.
Wow. I pray that history does NOT repeat itself: intra-family factional struggles like those are what brought down Pabst Brewing in the 1950s and Schlitz Brewing in the 1970s. If InBev succeeds, it probably won’t end up with much: Brewing’s history has shown over and over again that when family leadership is destroyed, the brewery is, too. (It’s worth noting that when Miller bought Leinenkugel back in the 1980s, Miller left the Leinenkugel family in charge. It can’t be an accident that twenty years into that purchase, Leinie is doin’ just fine.)
This story is becoming more painful by the moment. But again, I’m a sap. I REALLY want the Busch family to remain company leaders and stewards.