Investigation into Florida’s Investments in Anheuser-Busch InBev

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In a recent move, Governor Ron DeSantis has urged state administrators to look into Florida’s investments in shares of Anheuser-Busch InBev. This decision comes in light of the brewing company’s controversial collaboration with transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

Governor DeSantis, known for his opposition to what he terms “woke companies,” has directed a letter to Lamar Taylor, the interim director of the Florida State Board of Administration (SBA), instructing him to initiate a thorough review. The objective of this examination is to assess how AB InBev’s actions have affected and continue to affect the value of SBA’s holdings in the company.

By expressing concerns that AB InBev may have breached its legal duties towards shareholders, Governor DeSantis highlights the potential necessity of shareholder action. The governor further requests Taylor to share his letter with AB InBev directors.

In a tweet shared on Friday, Governor DeSantis also mentioned that environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) investing had been significantly impacted in the state. He emphasized that all options are being considered and warned woke corporations that prioritize ideology over returns.

Earlier this year, AB InBev’s partnership with Mulvaney to promote Bud Light on social media resulted in boycotts and a decline in sales for the brand. Notably, Bud Light is no longer the top-selling beer nationwide.

AB InBev could not be reached for comment at the time of writing.

DeSantis Continues to Target Companies for Prioritizing Cultural Issues

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has once again taken aim at Bud Light and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) concerns. Known for his relentless focus on companies that prioritize cultural issues over their business, DeSantis has been embroiled in a legal and political battle with Walt Disney.

DeSantis claims that an investigation into the State Board of Administration’s (SBA) investment in AB InBev will ultimately benefit Florida retirees. However, it seems that Florida’s pension plan does not actually hold any American depositary receipts of the company. The SBA’s recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows no evidence of AB InBev stock in the pension plan’s possession at the end of the first quarter or throughout the fourth quarter of 2022.

Efforts to reach Florida’s SBA and representatives for DeSantis for comment were unsuccessful. If the pension plan did acquire AB InBev shares after the controversy began, this would be documented in the second-quarter 13F filings, which are typically due in August. Furthermore, the SBA may be investigating other entities that hold shares of AB InBev.

On a separate note, Florida’s pension plan does hold shares of Disney. SEC filings reveal that the plan possessed nearly 2 million shares of Disney at the end of the first quarter, a figure relatively unchanged from the end of 2022. Additionally, the SBA owns just over 165,000 shares of Constellation Brands, a spirits manufacturer.

Following the boycotts, AB InBev’s American depositary receipts experienced a 0.3% decline in market close on Friday. Currently, their value remains approximately 14% lower than their pre-boycott highs. Despite this setback, they have shown signs of growth in recent weeks, with a 1.1% increase over the past month and a 1.4% increase over the past five days.

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