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Belgian InBev's $46B Bid For Anheuser-Busch

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ST. LOUIS — Anheuser-Busch Cos., the nation's biggest brewery, received a purchase offer Wednesday from a Belgian brewer that might be too good to refuse.

Anheuser-Busch reported late Wednesday that InBev SA gave it an unsolicited bid to buy the company for roughly $46 billion. It's unclear whether senior Anheuser-Busch executives think the deal makes sense, but shareholders may be drawn to the offer _ $65 a share, a steep premium over the company's closing price of $58.35 Wednesday.

"Anheuser-Busch said that its board of directors will evaluate the proposal carefully and in the context of all relevant factors, including Anheuser-Busch's long-term strategic plan," the company said in a statement. "The board will pursue the course of action that is in the best interests of Anheuser-Busch's stockholders."

A spokeswoman said the company would not comment beyond the statement.

Speculation has been rife in recent weeks that a takeover bid was coming. The beer industry has been consolidating in recent years amid rising ingredient costs and stale demand in the United States.

Shares of the U.S. brewer soared 7.6 percent to $62.80 after hours, when the announcement was made. They had risen 2 percent in late-afternoon trading, when rumors of the deal were reported on CNBC.

Opposition to a potential takeover has already been fierce in Anheuser-Busch's hometown of St. Louis, and elsewhere in the U.S. The brewer employs 6,000 people in St. Louis, and many workers are worried InBev would cut jobs as the companies consolidate.

Web sites have sprung up opposing the deal on patriotic grounds, arguing that such an iconic U.S. firm shouldn't be handed over to foreign ownership.

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On the Net: Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc.: http://www.anheuser-busch.com

(This version CORRECTS Corrects price of deal. UPDATES throughout with background, details. Will be led. )