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    Speculation Rises over Anheuser-Busch and Modelo Merger

    Possible deal could thwart InBev's $46 billion bid.

    NEW YORK -- On the heels of InBev's $46.3 billion bid to buy Anheuser-Busch, the company, famous for its Budweiser brand, has had preliminary talks with Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo SAB de CV about a possible merger, reported Reuters.

    Brenda William, a spokesperson for Anheuser-Busch, told CSNews Online that the company had no comment on the purported deals.

    Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Anheuser approached Carlos Fernandez, chief executive of Modelo and an Anheuser director, about a deal after the InBev proposal became public. Modelo, maker of Negra Modelo and Corona Extra, is 50 percent owned by Anheuser, though the St. Louis-based brewer of Budweiser and Michelob has no role in managing the company, reported the paper. Fernandez said he was unaware of any merger talks between Anheuser and InBev.

    Analysts speculate the talks with Modelo are a backdoor response to the InBev bid. If the deal went through, Anheuser-Busch net worth would climb by $11 billion, a figure out of InBev's reach.

    "We think Anheuser had one major lever for driving a higher price ... convincing Mexico's Grupo Modelo to agree to a merger," Credit Suisse analyst Carlos Laboy told the paper. "However, it now appears to be too late if shareholder approval is required to make such a deal happen."

    Citing anti-trust issues, both of Missouri's senators have publicly opposed the deal The Associated Press reported that Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., sent a letter last week to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, asking for close scrutiny on the InBev bid. "The proposed foreign acquisition of Anheuser-Busch is troubling to me because it potentially raises antitrust issues under existing law by putting a significant market share of the U.S. in the hands of fewer competitors," the letter said.

    Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., told the AP she was "nervous" about the deal, and planned to send a letter to Anheuser-Busch's board of directors asking them not to allow the deal with InBev to move forward.

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