(Family) History Repeating Itself

As I noted a few days ago, the Big Alarm Bell re. the possible InBev buyout of A-B is the family factionalism — which is definitely no longer behind the scenes. Today’s Wall Street Journal offers up more comments from pro-sale family members (including the deliciously named Adolphus A. Busch IV).

All I can think of, naturally, are the family factions that provoked the demise of Schlitz (in the 1970s) and the sad decline of Miller (in the 1950s and into the 1960s). For us anti-sale types, this ain’t good news.

On a cheerier note, I describe Adolphus IV’s name as “delicious” only because, ya know, Adolphus The Original still looms large in this historian’s mind. The families descendant from Eberhard Anheuser and Adolphus Busch are riddled with men named August and Adolphus, many of whom carry middle names of Anheuser, Adolphus, or August. There’s a reason that men like August Busch III and Gus Busch, Jr. (his father) ended up being called Two or Three. It’s about the only way to keep them straight — although doing so assumes prior knowledge of who is the son of whom. And it’s all pretty confusing, even for someone like me who has a fairly good mental image of a complicated family tree. None of which has anything to do with anything.

But for those who are following the InBev/A-B story, it’s worth taking a look at this piece in today’s breakingviews.com about why InBev is also interested in SABMiller.

InBev choosing Miller over A-B? Given the Great Beer Battle of the 1970s (Miller’s John Murphy setting out to demolish A-B, and A-B’s Augie Busch (aka August IV) squashing Miller and Murphy into non-contention), wouldn’t that be ironic as hell?

One more point for all you journalist types: it’s FIVE generations of Busch men. Toss in Eberhard Anheuser (who is the maternal grandparent of four of those generations) and you’ve got six generations at the helm.

For those who are counting, they are: Eberhard Anheuser, Adolphus Busch, August Busch, Sr., August Busch, Jr., August Busch III, and August Busch IV. And if anyone cares: Adolphus’s original choice for brewery heir apparent was his son Adolphus. But that Adolphus died young and unexpectedly Son Peter was a wild man whom Papa Adolphus disowned, so a reluctant August Busch Sr. ended up running the brewery as Adolphus retired. It was he who steered the company through Prohibition. His two sons, Adolphus and August, Jr., took over. Adolphus died fairly young in, if I recall, 1944, and August, Jr. ran the show until son August III more or less ran him off.

Confused yet?

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