Anheuser-Busch (A-B) has brewed up a billion-dollar business with its Buds. The company is best known for brewing Budweiser, one of the world's largest-selling beers by volume. Other A-B labels include Bud Light, Busch, Michelob, O'Doul's, and Kirin under license. As part of its business, the company also owns a 50% stake in Mexico's GRUPO MODELO, maker of beers under the Corona and Negra Modelo names. Besides beer, A-B produces distilled beverages, energy drinks, and non-alcoholic malt beverages. The company has operated as a subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), the world's largest beer maker, since the Belgium brewer acquired A-B for $52 billion in 2008.
Eclipsing SABMiller's market position, A-B offers some 200 beer brands and holds a nearly 48% share in US beer sales to retailers. A-B's non-alcohol brews include O'Doul's, malt liquors King Cobra and Hurricane Ice, and specialty malts (via an alliance with Bacardi). It distributes Hansen's energy drinks, including Monster Energy. To keep all its products moving, the brewer distributes them through a network of more than 600 independent wholesalers. Its business is supported through the company's dozen US breweries (and incidentally it's a major maker of aluminum cans and a top recycler of them for three decades). As part of its business, A-B operates the global Busch Agricultural Resources, which sources and produces raw materials for its brew masters, and an extensive packing operation that includes Anheuser-Bush Packaging Group, Metal Container Corp., Anheuser-Busch Recycling Corp., Longhorn Glass Corp., and Eagle Packaging.
Mergers and Acquisitions
A-B has continued to evolve its business by tapping the premium and specialty beer markets. In 2011 it bought Chicago's Goose Island Beer (also known as Fulton Street Brewery) from Craft Brewers Alliance for $38 million. Licensing agreements have helped to extend A-B's reach. It has a licensing agreement with Japan's Kirin Brewery to make and market its beers in the US; Budweiser is brewed and sold in Japan through Kirin. Budweiser is licensed for brew and sale in the Republic of Ireland through Guinness Ireland (Diageo), in Italy through Heineken, and through a various agreements with other brewers in Spain, India, Panama, Chile, and Argentina. A-B also enjoys the title of the Official Beer Sponsor of Major League Baseball; it extended the partnership with the league through 2018.
Concurrently, A-B has jettisoned certain peripheral operations, enabling ABInBev to pay down the considerable debt it incurred as a result of buying A-B. In 2009 A-B sold part of its Metal Container business, which makes soda cans and lids (four plants), to Ball Corporation for $577 million. A-B retained the seven plants that make beer cans. Parent ABInBev also sold Busch Entertainment to private equity firm Blackstone for $2.7 billion. (Blackstone later renamed the operation SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.) During 2009 ABInBev also parsed out roughly 20% of A-B's interest in Tsingtao, one of China's leading beer makers, to Asahi Breweries for $667 million.
Sales of Budweiser, considered the national beer brand of the US, for the first time in 20 years increased nearly 2%, generating more than 9% of ABInBev's global volumes in 2010.
Sales and Marketing
A-B also shares in the cost saving synergies created by its takeover (which subsequently became the North American headquarters of the Belgium brewer) as well as the benefits from exchanging best practices in sales, distribution, and marketing, to name a few.