updated 6/16/2008 8:51:19 PM ET 2008-06-17T00:51:19

Republican Gov. Matt Blunt sent a letter Monday to the Federal Trade Commission, asking for a federal review of the proposed sale of Anheuser-Busch Cos. to Belgian brewer InBev.

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Blunt's letter said he is concerned the sale could create a near monopoly in the U.S. beer market by combining the two large brewers. He also said he's concerned the sale could damage the St. Louis and Missouri economies.

"In particular I am concerned that this sale would have destabilizing impacts on our nation and state's long-term economic interests. I am opposed to this buyout and am asking you to conduct this review as quickly as possible," Blunt said in the letter to FTC Chairman William E. Kovacic.

InBev, which makes Beck's and Stella Artois beers, made an offer this month to buy Anheuser-Busch for roughly $46 billion. Anheuser-Busch, the nation's largest brewery and maker of Budweiser and Bud Light beers, has not yet officially responded to the offer.

Late Monday afternoon, Anheuser-Busch Chief Executive August Busch IV sent a brief letter to InBev Chief Executive Carlos Brito, declining to elaborate on media reports that Anheuser-Busch has begun negotiations for a potential combination with Mexico's Grupo Modelo SAB.

Should that deal take place, the resulting company might be too big for InBev to buy.

Busch was responding to a letter Brito sent him Sunday, warning against such a deal with Modelo. Brito said a combination could endanger the premium price it is willing to pay for the King of Beers. Brito, said that his company's proposed offer was based on Anheuser-Busch's current assets, business and capital structure.

"With respect to certain of the matters referenced in your letter, it is Anheuser-Busch's policy not to confirm, deny, comment on or speculate on rumors," Busch said in his letter Monday.

"As we have previously indicated, our board of directors is evaluating your proposal carefully and in the context of all relevant factors, including Anheuser-Busch's long-term strategic plan," the letter continued. "Our board will pursue the course of action that is in the best interests of Anheuser-Busch's stockholders and expects to make its determination in due course."

Blunt came out strongly against the offer immediately after it was made, along with Missouri's U.S. Senators, Republican Kit Bond and Democrat Claire McCaskill. Bond sent a letter last week to the U.S. Department of Justice, asking that agency to review the transaction to make sure it doesn't violate U.S. antitrust laws.

Blunt said in an interview Friday that lawmakers have few options for stopping the deal if it is approved by Anheuser-Busch shareholders. One of the few regulatory hurdles would be an FTC or Justice Department review to make sure the combination wouldn't violate antitrust laws. Anheuser-Busch controls nearly half the U.S. beer market, while InBev remains a niche player.

It's unclear if the FTC will heed Blunt's call for a review.

"The FTC doesn't comment on proposed or pending transactions," said agency spokesman Mitch Katz.

Anheuser-Busch shareholders might have the final word on the deal. The offer amounts to $65 per-share, a rich premium to the company's stock price of $58.35 Wednesday before the offer was made public. Anheuser-Busch's shares closed Monday at $60.53, down 59 cents.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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