Anheuser-Busch Purchase of Budweiser of Owensboro

Anheuser-Busch has been a distributor in Kentucky since 1978, when it purchased it’s Louisville distribution facility.  In December of 2014, it purchased its distributor in Owensboro after receiving approval from the Commonwealth of Kentucky to do so.  Today, a narrow group of special interests is attempting to pass legislation (House Bill 168) interfering in the free market.  This legislation would have a chilling impact on outside companies, such as Anheuser-Busch, who have already or may be considering a future investment in Kentucky.  Anheuser-Busch strongly opposes House Bill 168.

What Does Anheuser-Busch Do in Kentucky?

Anheuser-Busch has a proud history in Kentucky’s business community, having operated as a licensed distributor in Louisville since 1978 and Owensboro since 2014.  We make significant economic contributions, employing more nearly 200 Kentuckians and paying $10.7 million annually in taxes. We are also major sponsors of well-known events, including the Kentucky Derby, university athletic programs, and the State Fair, which represent an average investment of $1.17 million annually.

What Happened in Owensboro?

Anheuser-Busch purchased its distributor in Owensboro (Budweiser of Owensboro).  The deal received approval from county and state officials and was full allowed under legal precedent when Anheuser-Busch purchased its distributor in Louisville in 1978. This was a private transaction between a willing seller and a willing buyer.

Why did Anheuser-Busch purchase its Owensboro distributor?

Given the significant investment Anheuser-Busch has made in our brands, we should have a say in how our products are delivered to customers. In that regard, we share the same commitment to ensuring brand quality throughout the distribution chain as any other manufacturer or distributor would. Our experience in Louisville bears that out.

So Why Is This A Big Deal?

First of all, it shouldn’t be.  This was simply a business transaction between two private companies. Unfortunately, it seems that some folks want to ignore decades of established Kentucky law that allowed Anheuser-Busch to own a distributorship even though we’ve done so in Louisville for almost 40 years. Kentucky’s beer distribution system has worked well for decades and doesn’t need fixing.  It provides balance between all stakeholders – brewers, distributors and retailers – and allows brewers to have a reasonable say in how their brands get to market.  It’s unfortunate that a small number of special interests are seeking to manipulate the political system to alter this long-standing balance and obtain competitive advantages at the expense of others.

What Roles Did Government Play in This Transaction?

This transaction was approved in Daviess County, and then in December by the Kentucky Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC).

Why Does Anheuser-Busch Oppose House Bill 168?

Anheuser-Busch opposes this legislation because it represents unnecessary government intervention in the free market and places restrictions on competition in the distribution tier.  Even more troubling is the negative impact this bill would have on the outside investment that Kentucky needs to grow its economy and create jobs.

Will House Bill 168 Have a Negative Impact on Kentucky?

Yes, and the Kentucky Legislature should not pass it.  This special interest legislation is nothing short of an attack on a responsible corporate citizen.  Anheuser-Busch has operated in the Commonwealth for almost forty years, paying taxes, contributing significantly to local economies through sponsorships and other investments and providing good-paying jobs to Kentuckians.  Passing laws that discourage outside investments in Kentucky could have chilling impacts on future economic development.