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The New York Times reports this morning that Anheuser-Busch’s board of directors is expected to reject an unsolicited $46.4 billion acquisition bid from Belgium-based InBev, which the paper says “is likely to become a bitter fight that may even spill over to a political debate about Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Budweiser and one of the nation’s most prominent family-run companies.

“In an effort to justify rejecting InBev’s $65-a-share bid, Anheuser-Busch is expected to announce an extensive reorganization aimed at bolstering profits that will include cutting more than $500 million in costs … The savings will come from reducing marketing expenses and possibly shedding assets like its Busch Gardens theme park business and its packaging unit. The reorganization, which is expected to include scores of job cuts, may anger some residents and politicians in St. Louis, where the company’s headquarters is located, who had been pressing Anheuser-Busch to reject the bid in part to save local jobs.”

It is anticipated that InBev could attempt a hostile takeover of the company, possibly going directly to shareholders and bypassing management.

And, the Times writes, “The wild card in the takeover battle remains Grupo Modelo, the Mexican maker of Corona, which is 50 percent owned by Anheuser-Busch. Anheuser-Busch has sought to acquire the other 50 percent of Modelo to bolster its defense. But Modelo has indicated it will not sell to Anheuser-Busch and has even held discussions about a deal with InBev.”

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