August Busch IV

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This article is about the 5th generation brewing magnate. For other persons, see August Busch (disambiguation).
August Busch IV
Born August Adolphus Busch IV
(1964-06-15) June 15, 1964 (age 51)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Occupation Board Member of Anheuser-Busch InBev, Former President and CEO, Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc.
Spouse(s) Kathryn "Kate" Thatcher (2006-2009) divorced
Parent(s) August Busch III and Susan (Hornibrook) Busch

August Adolphus Busch IV (born June 15, 1964) is the former CEO of Anheuser-Busch; he was the last of the family to control the company, which was purchased in a hostile takeover in 2008 by InBev.

Early life[edit]

He is a great-great-grandson of Anheuser-Busch founder Adolphus Busch, and a great-great-great-grandson of Eberhard Anheuser who originally purchased the brewery in 1860. He is the son of Susan (Hornibrook) and August Busch III, the former chairman, president and CEO of the company. Busch is known by industry insiders as "The Fourth."

Busch's parents divorced when he was five, and he lived with his mother. His time with his father was mostly spent at the brewery and their relationship was, for the most part, professional.[1]

After graduating in 1982 from Parkway West High School in Ballwin, Missouri, August Busch IV studied as an undergraduate at the University of Arizona. He left the University before completing his degree. Later he earned both an MBA and a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in finance from Saint Louis University. He has a "Brewing On The Spot" certificate from VLB Berlin.


Early years[edit]

After graduation he followed the family tradition of starting at the bottom of Anheuser-Busch. He worked as a brewing apprentice in the Old Malt House as a union member of Brewers & Maltsters Local 6 in St. Louis, Missouri, as an intern in the Culture Yeast Center, and later as a foreman in packaging and shipping operations.[2]

In 1989 he moved into marketing, working on the start of the Bud Dry brand launch. Although the launch was considered a success, the product ultimately proved to be unsuccessful. He then worked on updating the image of the company's flagship brand, Budweiser, which had been losing market share, launching among other things the Budweiser frogs campaign.

Busch's father initially opposed the campaign; he later admitted "I've lost the ability to understand the 21- to 30-year-olds the way I used to."[2]

He was Group Vice President-Marketing and Wholesale Operations (2000–2002). He was Vice President and Group Executive of the Company and had served in such capacity since 2000.

Chairman and InBev takeover[edit]

In 2002 Busch (and other family members) were passed over when the company named Patrick Stokes as its first non-family President and CEO.[3] Busch's father had said that he owns 1% of the stock and that the "Board of Directors calls the shots" at the company.[4]

Busch IV became president and CEO effective December 1, 2006. Busch's father had been criticized for not expanding globally and leaving the company open for acquisition. In 2007 August and the directors began discussions to acquire Diageo but the deal never advanced.[5]

Less than 18 months into Busch's tenure, rumors circulated that InBev was attempting to buy the company. In April 2008, Mr. Busch told beer distributors that Anheuser-Busch would never be bought "on my watch." Anheuser's stock had closed at $49.20 on April 30, 2008.[6] InBev offered $65/share in June and August Busch IV refused. Prior to InBev's offer, Anheuser's stock had never been higher than 51.97. To make it more difficult to avoid the takeover, August proposed acquiring the remaining 50 percent share it did not own of Grupo Modelo.[5] InBev then said it would not include August Busch in the new company board, but would include his uncle Adolphus Busch IV, who had favored the deal.[7] Eventually InBev sweetened its bid to $70/share and kept August on the board.[8]

On July 13th, 2008, he signed off on the sale of Anheuser to InBev, ending 156 years of family control.[9] The deal officially closed on November 18, 2008 just as the Late-2000s recession was beginning.

Press reports indicated that the Busch family ownership of the company had greatly dwindled over the years, with Busch's father owning 1.2 percent of the shares at the time of the takeover. In total the Busch family owned 4 percent of the company[10] and were not the company's biggest stockholders. Barclay's owned 6 percent and Berkshire Hathaway owned 5 percent.[11] The family did not own supervoting stock, as do many publicly traded companies with family affiliations. The board did not employ the common takeover defense tactic of staggering its board of directors terms (the AB board was re-elected each year).

According to reports, August IV and his father were estranged. His father was said to have engineered the AB takeover blindsiding the son. The public conflict between father and son led to the higher price.[5] AB gave August IV a title of nonexecutive director and a contract as a consultant that ran until December 2013.[citation needed] He was also given a security detail through 2011.[12]

The deal was worth $100 million to Busch.[13] He also received a seat on InBev's board for a three-year term, $10.35 million in advance, and the promise of $120,000 a month in consultancy fees, as well as a personal security team.[14] The same month the InBev takeover was completed, Busch resigned as a director of FedEx Corp, a position he had held since 2003.[15]


August A. Busch IV holds advanced black belt degrees in the martial arts disciplines of Judo, Tae-Kwon-Do and Hapkido. Busch, reported as a lean 5-foot-10-inch man in 2005, was described as having a striking resemblance to his father.[10]

Busch married Kathryn "Kate" Thatcher, sixteen years his junior, in August 2006 in Bradford, Vermont[16] shortly before becoming CEO. He filed for divorce on November 26, 2008; the same month the InBev take over was completed. The couple had a prenuptial agreement, and the divorce moved quickly through the courts, becoming official at the end of January 2009.[16][17][15] The couple had no children.

Run-ins with the law[edit]

Accident resulting in death of Michele Frederick (1983)[edit]

At age 19 while attending the University of Arizona, Busch was driving in an auto accident that resulted in the death of his passenger, 21-year-old Michele Frederick, a local model and waitress.[18] According to witnesses, Busch had left a bar early one morning with Frederick.[19] The vehicle wrecked at a 25 mph curve known for accidents.[19] It flipped; Frederick went through the sunroof and was likely killed instantly when the car rolled over her.[19][page needed] Busch left the scene of the accident without informing anyone.[19][page needed] When police arrived on the scene hours later, they found empty Bud Light cans scattered in and around the car, along with Busch's driver's license.[19][page needed] Police went to his Tucson townhouse, where they found him with blood on his body, a sawed-off shotgun, and in a dazed condition showing signs of amnesia.[19][page needed] After a lengthy investigation by Tucson police, Busch was not charged with any wrongdoing, due to lack of evidence.[19][20]

As part of procedure, police took blood and urine samples were taken from Busch when he was taken into custody. These samples were to assess whether and how much he had been drinking at the time of the accident.[19] But, the hospital lost the urine sample, and mishandled the blood sample.[19][page needed] No one in the staff could explain what had happened; the police investigator said this loss of evidence by the hospital was a first in his experience.[19] Without further evidence, the police dropped the case.[19][20] Years later Deputy Ron Benson said, "I didn't feel good about [dropping the case]. My gut told me this guy was drunk and killed this girl and I couldn't do my best for her because the [blood and urine] evidence just disappeared."[19][page needed]

William Knoedelseder, who wrote a biography of the Busch family, speculated that Busch attorneys likely made a private, secret settlement with the Frederick family.[19][page needed] August IV's mother, Susie Busch, wrote in a newspaper column that her son had not been treated justly: "there is no just treatment for families with a name and money."[19][page needed]

Car chase (1985)[edit]

Busch was arrested after leading police on a car chase with speeds reaching between 85 and 90 mph on Kingshighway Boulevard as he was returning from the Sauget, Illinois, strip bar PT's Sports Cabaret.[21] He was accused of trying to run over two officers with his Mercedes. The officers were in an unmarked police car, and ended the chase by shooting out the rear tire of Busch's car. Busch claimed he thought they were attempting to kidnap him.[1] He was acquitted by a St. Louis jury.[22]

Fatal drug overdose of Adrienne Nicole Martin (2010)[edit]

Twenty-seven-year-old Adrienne Nicole Martin was found dead at Busch's home in the 2800 Block of South Lindbergh Boulevard in Huntleigh, Missouri. The residence has 6,300-square-foot (590 m2), with 16 rooms set on 4 1/2 wooded acres.[12] Household employee Michael Jung called 9-1-1 at 1:15 p.m.[23] The call was reported to have been 42 minutes after a problem was discovered with Martin. Busch's attorney Art Margulis denied that anything suspicious occurred and described the death as "tragic and untimely".

Busch was in the house at the time. The matter was investigated by Frontenac, Missouri police; police chief Thomas Becker said early on there was "no public safety concern regarding the case."[24][25][26]

The incident occurred on a Sunday. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch was the first to report it four days later on a Thursday.[27] Martin, a former Hooters waitress, was a divorced mother of one and is reported to have been dating Busch for a year.[12]

The initial autopsy was inconclusive and did not reveal signs of trauma. Police reports said they were initially investigating the case as a drug overdose. Martin's ex-husband Kevin J. Martin, a Cape Girardeau, Missouri physician, said Martin suffered from Long QT syndrome, which could cause an unexpected sudden death. The physician said he had been personally called by August after the death and said, "We also both think the world of August...He is a good man." [28] The physician said that Martin had been improperly taking Trazodone.[13]

In his first interview, published on January 4 in the Post-Dispatch, Busch said that 911 had been called immediately. He asked Jung to make the call because he was still with Martin. He said that when he first woke at 11 am, he thought Martin was sleeping. He credited her with encouraging him to give up his playboy ways. "You know, I'm this notorious bachelor who always wanted someone on the side, but I didn't with Adrienne."[13] Adrienne Martin's obituary in the Springfield News-Leader described as Busch as "the love of her life."[29] Her mother arranged for cremation after the St. Louis County Medical examiner released her daughter's body to her. The county's medical examiner said the cremation would not affect the investigation.[30] Her mother Christine Trampler said Busch had taken her on a helicopter ride the day before she died and had posted it that night on Facebook. She said that Adrienne told her that night, "There's a situation that caused her not to sleep." She did elaborate but said it had nothing to do with Busch.[31]

A toxicology report in February 2011 indicated Martin had cocaine and oxycodone in her system. The death was held due to the oxycodone (she did not have a prescription for the drug), and that the cocaine was at a lethal level. The report further said that Martin had been using cocaine for several months to a year.[32][33]

On March 31, 2011, Adriene's ex-husband Kevin filed a wrongful death suit against Busch on behalf of her son Blake Alexander Martin (born 2003). The case was to be handled in Cape Girardeau.[34]

In the wake of the suit, Adrienne's mother Christine Trampler said she was hiring New York attorney John Q. Kelly (who previously represented Beth Holloway and the estate of Nicole Brown Simpson) to pursue the case. She was concerned that a friendship between Adrienne's ex-husband and Busch would taint the case.[32] On April 6, 2011, Adrienne's father George "Larry" Eby joined the suit, saying he had been deprived of the "companionship, comfort, instruction, guidance, counsel and training of Adrienne Martin."[35]

On April 20, 2011, the press reported that Busch had agreed to a $1.5 million settlement with Martin. The court would decide how much could be allocated to Adrienne's parents.[36]


  • August Adolphus Busch IV contributed nearly $200,000 to the procurement of a vessel to be sunk off the Middle Florida Keys as the basis for an artificial reef. As a result, the vessel MV Adolphus Busch was named for him. Today the reef has developed as a marine habitat and popular dive site.[37]

Further reading[edit]

  • Peter Hernon & Terry Ganey, Under the Influence: The Unauthorized Story of the Anheuser-Busch Dynasty, Avon Books, 1992
  • Fortune Magazine; January 13, 1997; "BUD-WEIS-HEIR August Busch IV is rebellious, risk-taking--and (nearly) ready to rule the world's largest brewer".[38]
  • Business Week; November 11, 2002
  • Forbes; March 3, 2006
  • Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America's Kings of Beer, William Knoedelseder, HarperBusiness, 2012
  • Dethroning the King - The Hostile Takeover of Anheuser-Busch, An American Icon, Julie Macintosh, John Wiley & Sons, Inc


  1. ^ a b Kosmodel, David, "Anheuser CEO Fight for His Legacy," Wall Street Journal, A1, May 27, 2008
  2. ^ a b Sellers, Patricia (January 13, 1997). "Bud-Weis-Heir August Busch Iv Is Rebellious, Risk-Taking--And (Nearly) Ready To Rule The World's Largest Brewer". CNN. 
  3. ^ "Patrick T. Stokes Profile -". Retrieved 2010-12-26. 
  4. ^ Sellers, Patricia (1997-01-13). "BUD-WEIS-HEIR AUGUST BUSCH IV IS REBELLIOUS, RISK-TAKING-AND (NEARLY) READY TO RULE THE WORLD'S LARGEST BREWER. - January 13, 1997". Retrieved 2010-12-26. 
  5. ^ a b c Kesmodel, David (2010-09-29). "New Book Says Busch Family Lost Budweiser Amid Infighting, Missed Deals - Deal Journal - WSJ". Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  6. ^ "Anheuser-Busch Companies - Historical Price Lookup". 1996-03-26. Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  7. ^ "Adolphus Busch IV Responds as InBev Courts A-B Stockholders | | St. Louis, MO". Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  8. ^ Espinoza, Javier (2008-07-11). "InBev Seen Sweetening On Anheuser". Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  9. ^ Kesmodel, David; Cimilluca, Dana; Berman, Dennis (July 15, 2008). "Anheuser Deal Recognizes Its Tough Spot". The Wall Street Journal. 
  10. ^ a b Arndorfer, James B. (2005-06-27). "IS HE BUSCH LEAGUE? - Advertising Age - News". Archived from the original on 24 December 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  11. ^ "InBev Bud". 2008-05-23. Retrieved 2010-12-28. 
  12. ^ a b c TODD C. FRANKEL 314-340-8110 (2010-10-27). "For Busch family, woman's death is latest in tragic history". Archived from the original on 4 February 2011. Retrieved 2010-12-26. 
  13. ^ a b c "Busch IV talks about death of girlfriend, his depression". Archived from the original on 4 February 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-04. 
  14. ^ "Where Did August Busch IV Go?". 2009-09-03. Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  15. ^ a b P 366: Dethroning the King, The Hostile Takeover of Anheuser-Busch, an American Icon – Julie MacIntosh
  16. ^ a b Garrison, Chad (2009-01-30). "She Was His Wife, But She Wasn't his "Bud" ... The August Busch IV Divorce Files – St. Louis News – Daily RFT". Retrieved 2010-12-28. 
  17. ^ Deb Peterson (30 January 2009). "After marriage of A-B and InBev, Busch IV filed for divorce". St. Louis Post Dispatch. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  18. ^ CBS News (24 December 2010). "August Busch IV in Headlines After Model Death". Retrieved 24 October 2012. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n William Knoedelseder (2012). "Ch 14: "Warning Sign"". Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America's Kings of Beer. HarperBusiness. ISBN 978-0062009265. 
  20. ^ a b "Pima County District Attorney" (PDF). 
  21. ^ Garrison, Chad (2010-09-30). "The Women of August Busch IV (NSFW) - St. Louis News - Daily RFT". Retrieved 2010-12-28. 
  22. ^ Garrison, Chad (2009-01-30). "St. Louis Has Its Playboy Back! - St. Louis News - Daily RFT". Retrieved 2010-12-26. 
  23. ^ "It's "dark back there:" 911 call from Busch home". 2010-10-27. Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  24. ^ "View source – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia". Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  25. ^ Pistor, Nick. "Woman found dead in home of August Busch IV". Retrieved 2010-12-24. 
  26. ^ Kesmodel, David (2010-12-24). "Woman Found Dead at Home of Former Anheuser-Busch CEO August Busch IV –". Archived from the original on 28 December 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-24. 
  27. ^ "Adrienne Nicole Martin Death Investigation Prompts Controversy". Retrieved 2010-12-25. 
  28. ^ "42 minutes passed before 911 call about death at Busch home". 2010-10-27. Archived from the original on 4 February 2011. Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  29. ^ JESSE BOGAN • > 314-340-8255 (2010-12-31). "In memorial, Adrienne Martin is remembered as talented, devoted". Archived from the original on 4 February 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-04. 
  30. ^ "Cremation won't hurt death investigation of Busch girlfriend". 
  31. ^ "Busch girlfriend's mother doesn't blame him for death, she says". 
  32. ^ a b "Woman's family squabbles in suit against Busch". Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  33. ^ "Busch girlfriend died with cocaine, oxycodone in system, sources say". 2011-02-06. Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  34. ^ "Wrongful-death suit filed against August Busch IV in overdose death". Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  35. ^ "Busch wrongful death suit challenged by overdosed woman's father". 2011-04-08. Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
  36. ^ "Busch OKs $1.5 million payment to settle suit". Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
  37. ^ Guzowski, Jeff. "The Wrecks We Dive". South Florida Divers, Inc. SCUBA Club. Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
  38. ^ Sellers, Patricia (1997-01-13). "BUD-WEIS-HEIR AUGUST BUSCH IV IS REBELLIOUS, RISK-TAKING-AND (NEARLY) READY TO RULE THE WORLD'S LARGEST BREWER. - January 13, 1997". Retrieved 2010-12-24.