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For Busch IV, a chance to prove himself to dad

ST. LOUIS — For years, August Busch IV coveted the throne at Anheuser-Busch Cos. and the chance to finally prove himself to his exacting father.

Now, just 18 months into his tenure as CEO, a potential takeover is complicating the younger Busch's plans.

An offer by InBev would put the 43-year-old August A. Busch IV in a tough spot. If Anheuser is sold to InBev, he could be remembered as the member of the founding Busch family who let the St. Louis icon slip into foreign hands. The Busch family controls less than 4 percent of the stock, so even if a majority opposed the deal, it can't block it.

But the talk of a takeover carries even-more personal considerations for Busch: his tenuous relationship with his 70-year-old father, August A. Busch III, now an Anheuser director.

The younger Busch says he wants to show his father what he can do to revive the struggling brewer. Though Anheuser is the dominant U.S. brewer, the elder Busch passed up a number of international deals, allowing InBev to surpass it on the global stage.

Busch IV said he's still seeking his father's admiration.

"His love and respect will be when I'm ultimately successful," he says.

At this point, both men are fiercely opposed to the sale of the 150-year-old brewer and want Anheuser to control its own destiny in the fast-consolidating industry, people close to the company say. The brewer won't be sold "on my watch," the CEO told beer distributors last month.

But it's unclear how positions might shift in an unfolding takeover saga. And while father and son agree about InBev, they have been divided on a number of issues, including how to carve out a winning strategy amid tepid sales of major brands like Budweiser and Michelob, say people close to Anheuser.

The younger Mr. Busch acknowledges there has been tension. His transition to CEO, he says, has been "a very difficult, fluid situation."

For Busch IV, a chance to prove himself to dad 05/31/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 4:47pm]
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