The Reality Of Mergers And Acquistions

Oh, this is the hard part: when companies merge, when buyouts occur, when two companies launch "joint ventures," the impact goes beyond shareholder statements and stock values. It affects human beings.

The "exiting" process (sounds like a term from a Kafka novel) is now underway at Miller, at Coors, and at Anheuser-Busch. People I respect and admire are losing their jobs. That's the reality.

The beer folk may snipe at the "corporate brewers" all they like, but the reality is that these companies are composed of human beings: The "they" at A-B is your neighbor down the street, the woman in the church choir, the guy you see walking his dog or run into at the coffeeshop, and the mom who always makes time for soccer team fund-raising. Real people. And now, lots of those real people are losing their jobs.

And while I'm at it: I know that many people in the beer world -- beermakers, beer geeks, bloggers, etc. -- despise A-B. But over the past 150 or years, it's been a great employer and provided millions of people and their families with good jobs. It's also been a good citizen in the St. Louis area, donating what is now probably hundreds of millions of dollars to various charitable groups, a tradition that began with Adolphus Busch back in the 1870s. It practiced affirmative action before it had to and hired women before it was required to do so. It's been a great company. Let's hope it continues to be one under the new leadership (which will likely take charge sometime before year's end.)