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Dethroning the King: The Hostile Takeover of Anheuser-Busch, an American Icon Audio CD – Audiobook, 18 Jul 2011

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  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio; Unabridged edition (18 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1452603545
  • ISBN-13: 978-1452603544
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 2.8 x 13.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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"A Foolish Book Recommendation for July." (The Motley Fool) "How the Busch clan lost control of an iconic American beer company. If ever an American company represented the land of milk and honey for corporate executives it was Anheuser–Busch . . . For decades a palace of well–paid vice presidents in cushy offices presided over the manufacture of Budweiser, America′s beer, in that most American of cities, St. Louis. ′Few companies on earth were more evocative of America, with all of its history and iconography, than Anheuser–Busch,′ writes veteran Financial Times journalist Julie MacIntosh in her strenuously reported book, "Dethroning the King: The Hostile Takeover of Anheuser–Busch, an American Icon." As the title suggests, the reign of the King of Beers ended in the summer of 2008, when the company merged with the Brazil–based brewing giant InBev, an outfit about as culturally different from Anheuser–Busch as one could imagine. At $70 a share, or $52 billion, it was the largest all–cash acquisition in history and even more noteworthy because it occurred during the gathering storm of a global financial collapse. . . When growth–hungry InBev arrives on the scene, a company so lean and cost–conscious that they′re called the Walmart of brewers, all hell breaks loose at the complacent Anheuser–Busch headquarters. The Brazilians make a pitch of $43 billion in what′s known on Wall Street as a "bear hug"—an offer so generous that the recipient can′t refuse. But A–B′s board does refuse, triggering weeks of moves and counter–moves and endless end–gaming by the two companies. Ms. MacIntosh relates every gambit in crisp, scene–by–scene detail." ( The Wall Street Journal ) "Ms. MacIntosh . . . earns extra credit for staying on the Anheuser–InBev case despite considerable macrocosmic distractions. . . The author′s persistence pays off in her account of the Busch family′s searing internecine strife. . . ′Dethroning the King′ makes for a fine yarn with a cautionary message about American business in the age of globalization. InBev began laying off workers less than a month after the deal formally closed, Ms. MacIntosh reports. Maybe the next time a foreign entity tries to acquire a major American family company, the public will take notice before it becomes a fait accompli." ( The New York Times ) “There’s a lesson for all in book on brewing. . . a great read.” ( Morning Advertiser) “ Dethroning the King, . . . is the compelling play–by–play of InBev′s takeover of Anheuser–Busch. Give MacIntosh a Stella Artois for her excellent reporting.” ( "Dethroning the King is a brutally detailed look at the hostile takeover of Anheuser–Busch, the legendary icon that at one time was the epitome of American business success. It is a story that may well go down in American business history as one of the defining moments of this era. [An] insightful and brilliantly written work. As American business continues to dramatically change, this compelling book should be on every businessperson′s reading list."  (Business Lexington) A Library Journal Best Business Book 2010 “In a narrative that reads as fast as any fiction thriller, Financial Times journalist MacIntosh details the 2008 takeover of the iconic Anheuser–Busch brewing company by Belgian corporation InBev, focusing particularly on the company′s importance to the St. Louis region; its management, or lack thereof, by the Busch family (particularly the August Busches III and IV); and the broader unsettled economic climate of 2008.” --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Inside Flap

Once upon a time, the "King of Beers" ruled the world—Budweiser controlled 52 percent of the U.S. beer market, and Anheuser–Busch was the world′s top brewer. Then, economic hardship fell upon the land of milk and honey (and baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet), and the King became a pawn that easily fell into the hands of foreign interests. Today, the Great American Lager is no more. Anheuser–Busch′s fairy tale is over, and as Dethroning the King: The Hostile Takeover of Anheuser–Busch, an American Icon details, the legendary company collapsed in spectacular fashion. How it all played out behind the scenes is the real story–and it′s one people should get used to hearing as foreign companies set their sights on America′s most popular brands, taking advantage of a weakened American economy and preying on American corporations that have for far too long viewed themselves as "too big to be taken over." In the summer of 2008—investment bank Bear Stearns had already collapsed; lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were teetering on the verge of insolvency; financial services firm Lehman Brothers would soon declare the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history; and Anheuser–Busch had just received a takeover bid from foreign brewing giant InBev. As Dethroning the King describes, InBev′s timing wasn′t just lucky; it was perfect. Anheuser–Busch, which had been ruled for decades by iron–fisted scion August A. Busch III, had just handed the reins to his son, August A. Busch IV—and young August′s leadership was drawing lukewarm reviews from investors and even his own board of directors. Americans all across the country, meanwhile, were too distracted by their imploding personal finances to be concerned about Anheuser–Busch′s fate. Many Americans had never even heard of global brewing behemoth InBev, and they didn′t realize Budweiser had come under foreign attack until it was too late. On November 18, 2008, the stock of Anheuser–Busch, known for its "BUD" ticker symbol, stopped trading, and one of America′s oldest, most beloved brands lost its American–owned status. In Dethroning the King, Julie MacIntosh—the U.S. Mergers and Acquisitions Correspondent who led the Financial Times′s coverage of the takeover of Anheuser–Busch—takes you behind the scenes to tell the inside story of the King of Beers′ 150–year rise to power and its seven–week fall from grace. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DOPPLEGANGER TOP 500 REVIEWER on 22 Feb 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Julie Macintosh's account of the take-over of the iconic US brewer, Anheuser-Busch, (Budweiser et al) is a competent work tracking the growth of the company under a succession of Busch Family 'monocrats' whose right to direct and dominate the companies fortunes seems to have been signified by being given the first name of Adolphus or August and being known as The First, Second, Third or Fourth in the manner of European Royalty.

It is mostly very readable but extends slightly beyond the material available or collected by the author, and tends to become a little repetitious particularly on the tedious, verging on megalomanic management style of The Third which not only had a dispiriting effect on staff but was fundamental in leaving the once mighty brewers at the mercy of a predatory take-over assault. Perhaps a little shorter or the research being more inclusive with the input of facts and views from the many professional parties involved and earning mega-bucks from being aboard gravy train would have added to this account.

This all being said, I am glad to have read this book, and now have a greater insight into the North American and beyond beer industry.
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By John Fitzpatrick on 15 July 2011
Format: Hardcover
This account of the takeover of Anheuser-Busch, brewer of Budweiser, is better written than most business books but it is lacking in depth and as flat as a can of Bud that has been left untouched for too long.

The book has a number of failings, the most important of which is the author's lack of official sources. There is not a single quote or comment on the record from any of a leading players on either side and we readers are reduced to hearsay or direct quotes from minor participants.

The lack of information about the winning group, InBev, is unacceptable in a work of this nature. InBev was formed in 2004 through a merger of Interbrew of Belgium and Ambev of Brazil and was a fledgling on the global beer scene yet it managed to take over a company that had been established in 1852 and was virtually an American icon.

The author makes no attempt to describe how this happened or how the Brazilian side, led by Jorge Paulo Lemann, managed to impose its ruthlessly successful managerial style on the group.

I find this lack of information hard to take as Lemann and his partners are all well known in business circles not just in Brazil but in financial centers in the US and Europe.

The author is a former reporter with the Financial Times which had a correspondent in São Paulo and another in Brussels who could surely have provided useful information yet in her Acknowledgements she thanks the FT correspondent in New York and makes no mention of the others. Did she even try and talk to them?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 70 reviews
48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
Tell Me It Ain't So - 28 Oct 2010
By Loyd E. Eskildson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
"Dethroning the King" reports how Budweiser (Anheuser-Busch - A-B), an American icon built up over 150 years to a 52% U.S. market-share, was lost to Brazil's InBev (headquartered in Belgium) in just 7 weeks. Thought to be 'too big to buy,' it instead proved 'too slow to act.' Company loyalists probably thought the Busch family could prevent a hostile takeover - however, they collectively only owned 4% of the stock, less than Warren Buffett (5%).

August Busch (A.B.) III, the former highly-respected A-B CEO, had stepped down in 2002. Known for his attention to detail, especially quality and brand image, he had over-focused on beating Miller in U.S. market share, largely ignoring foreign opportunities. (A-B did own part of both a Chinese [Tsingtao] and Mexican beer [Grupo Modelo] producer.) His son, August Busch IV, unfortunately was known for vitriolic disputes with his father, lacked the board's confidence, and often was AWOL from his leadership duties. The takeover danger had been spotted at least two years prior, but little was done in defense until too late - $500 million/year ($1 billion at another point - unclear which they really committed to) in savings (including 1,185 positions), identified the day InBev made its offer.

InBev was created by the 2004 combination of Brazil's Ambev and Belgium's Interbrew. The takeover cost InBev $70/share, in cash (A-B stock was in low $50s when InBev began pursuit; initial offer was $65/share), and created the world's largest beer company with about 200 brands. InBev changed its name to Anheuser-Busch InBev to maintain A-B's heritage and stifle opposition; it also decided to site its N.A. headquarters in St. Louis.

In late 2006, A. B. IV was about to become CEO, and wanted to ink a joint venture with InBev (make A-B the exclusive U.S. importer of InBev's European brands). This would be his first big initiative, and help cement his CEO spot. He succeeded, but failed to include the standstill clause A.B. III wanted that prevents partners from making moves toward an unsolicited takeover. A.B. III allowed it to proceed at the board level, nonetheless. The agreement allowed InBev people to see the excessive corporate overhead and where to make cuts.

A-B board members had numerous conflicts of interest - with Enterprise Rent-A-Car that it did extensive business with, with the head of one of its distributors, and interlocking board memberships (eg. Ed Whitacre at AT&T was on A-B board; A.B. III was on AT&T board and had been key in Whitacre getting a generous pay package). The board neglected to try to tie up banks that might be called on by InBev for funding, had destaggered board terms but failed to require that dismissing the entire board couldn't be accomplished without some sort of infraction, its poison pill provision had expired, and the Busch family had neglected to establish a two-tier shareholding structure that allowed them to maintain control without a majority of shares.

A-B management did explore one defense - buying the rest of Grupo Modelo to make themselves to large for InBev to aquire. Between Modelo demanding too much, and A.B. IIII being uninterested, this went nowhere.

Side Note: Ex-AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre who later became CEO of G.M. was also a member of the A-B board - their inept performance should have disqualified him from involvement with and leadership of G.M. after the restructuring.

InBev immediately implemented zero-based budgeting upon takeover, planned $1.5 billion in cost cuts, and now plans $2.25 billion in annual savings by 2011. The New CEO, Carlos Brito, stayed at the Holiday Inn after flying coach from New York. Payables days have been extended - sometimes from 30 to 120 days. First-class travel became coach class, stays at expensive hotels became much cheaper locales, cushy, private offices became a sea of community tables and tightly packed desks, luxurious furniture was auctioned off, free beer and tickets to Cardinals games and Busch Gardens ended for all employees, numerous sports events sponsorships ended, and Grant's Farm is now only open weekends. Improved water efficiency (30%) is planned. In October, 2009, plans were announced to sell Busch Entertainment (SeaWorld) and A-B's corporate jets; Busch's share of Tsingtao Brewery was also sold. More than 1,500 jobs have been cut - many in sales and marketing (U.S. volumes fell 4.8% first-half of 2010). It's still carrying over $40 billion in long-term debt.

Bottom-Line: Having a excellent product, market share, and brand value is not enough in the era of globalization. The result was a sad event for America.
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Interesting Chronicle of Rise of Anheuser-Busch and its Eventual Takeover 12 Nov 2010
By Minnesota Ryan - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Dethroning the King" is a thoroughly researched and well-written chronicle of the rise of Anheuser-Busch and its eventual sale to the international brewer, InBev, in the largest-ever cash acquisition.

The first third of the book focuses on the personalities of the three generations of Busch leaders that ruled A-B for the last 80 years. This section is filled with rich anecdotes of inter-family power grabs and contrasting personal and professional management styles. For those not familiar with the Busch dynasty, the stories are fascinating and make for a good read. Following an effective set-up of the main characters, the author profiles what made A-B so successful in its meteoric rise from roughly 20% of the U.S. beer market share in the mid-70s to ultimately capturing 52% by 2002. It was interesting to see how the single-minded focus of A-B's CEO, August Busch III, and the effective advertising campaigns of the 90s helped cause such dramatic results.

Beginning around 2006, however, A-B's management hubris, a massively out-of-market cost structure and extremely insular thinking made the company vulnerable to a foreign takeover attempt. The last one-third of "Dethroning the King" tells a blow-by-blow narrative of how the takeover was planned, financed and executed. The author takes the reader into the Board rooms of both "hunter" and the "hunted" and even manages to save a couple of surprises for the end.

Similar to "The Smartest the Guys in the Room" which told the fall of Enron, in "Dethroning the King" the readers know the end result even before picking up the book yet this does not diminish one's enthusiasm for hearing all of the details of the story. The author's pace is well balanced, and the book is challenging to put down after beginning.
30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Business Isn't About Making Friends Anymore 28 Oct 2010
By Howard Park - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First and foremost this is a great book about a contested corporate takeover. It's not about brewing beer, marketing, advertising, pride, tradition, loyalty or anything else that made Anheuser-Busch great -- it's about a bunch of corporate lawyers and financeial bean counters who spin around the world on private planes reading financial statements and fine print. It's also a textbook case about the fall of a small part of the American empire. It could have been titled "Take The Money and Run" -- except that already was a title from a Woody Allen movie in the 1960's.

"Dethroning the King" is also about loss because almost every involved in this sad takeover tale is a loser. Carlos Brito of InBev seems like a winner but he overpaid for the dethroned "King of Beers" and hastened the devaluing of one of the most iconic brands in the world. August Busch III is a loser who made a lot of money, built a hugely successful company but ended up as a solitary jerk trusted and loved by nobody (though respected by all). Busch the Fourth is a nice guy in way, way over his head, somebody who should have been managing a beer wholesaler in a mid-level market. The financiers involved in the story are all from collapsed and disgraced -- though bailed out -- firms. The Board of Directors of the former Anheuser-Busch come off perhaps the worst of all, self-interested, lazy corporate yes-men who never created a job and wouldn't know a real Budweiser from a warm pitcher of spit. St. Louis and the rest of the USA are also big losers as another hometown hero company bites the dust.

This is not a fun read and the author probably indulges in too much psychobabble about the father-son drama between the reptillian Busch III and the hapless Busch IV. Dethroning the King is about more than the boring Busch'es -- it's about what made America great and how greed destroyed it. I shudder to think what August Busch Jr. would think if he read this book, it's almost enough to make a real American wish for prohibition again. Read it, weep, and let's learn from this sad tale of greed and loss.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
So hard to put down 7 Jan 2011
By KS Shark Girl - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an AB employee for ten years, this has been a heart-wrenching but eye-opening read. Our region office fell victim to the cost-cutting measures AB implemented in 2007 while trying to save themselves. These past few years, I have blamed the loss of the company on the Fourth, but it turns out that he never had a chance. His father, with his unbelievable arrogance and close-mindedness, did all the damage and it was too late to fix it. And to watch InBev buy a company that was the industry-leader and work diligently to bring it down to middle-of-the-pack status is mind-boggling. It is all such a shame and to learn that it could have been prevented had the Third just swallowed some stupid pride makes my heart hurt.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Terrific character-driven book with drama and pathos 30 Oct 2010
By sassynwugrad - Published on
Format: Hardcover
MacIntosh's book is a fascinating look behind the scenes of a story of an American business tragedy. When InBev started looking around for a target for its efforts at globalization, Annheuser Busch was ripe for the picking. The author details why with a reporter's detailed interviews and a novelist's approach to storytelling! It is a compelling book not to be missed!
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