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DeSantis Targets AB InBev In Shareholder Lawsuit Amid Bud Light Controversy

Florida Governor DeSantis hints at shareholder lawsuit against AB InBev over Bud Light controversy.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis could be going after another big corporation amid his year-long feud with Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS).

Anti-Bud Light beer graffiti is seen scrawled on a gate on June 21, 2023, in Arco, Idaho. Bud Light parent company AB InBev, the largest beer producer by volume in the world, ran afoul of core drinkers after an effort to broaden appeal through a promotion that included transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney backfired, resulting in sales to plummet nearly 30 percent, according to published reports. (NATALIE BEHRING/GETTY IMAGES) 

DeSantis has hinted at a shareholder lawsuit against Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE:BUD), which recently was in the eye of the storm following the company’s campaign with transgender TikTok influencer Dylan Mulvaney to boost the declining sales of Anheuser-Busch’s beer brand Bud Light.

In response to the collaboration, several conservative groups and commentators took offense, leading to a boycott of Anheuser-Busch products, including the company’s Bud Light line. The controversy has hurt the company’s sales and dragged its stock. The stock has lost about 12% since March 31 — one day before Mulvaney shared a video on TikTok showing personalized cans Bud Light had sent her in commemoration of her coming out as transgender.

The Florida pension fund, which had over $50 million worth of AB InBev shares out of total investments worth $180 billion, saw its net worth erode in the wake of the controversy, DeSantis said in an appearance on Fox News.

“It has absolutely hurt teachers; It has absolutely hurt other pensioners,” SAID the governor. He took exception to corporations trying to change society and get involved in politics. Referring to the legal battle with Disney, DeSantis said, “When you start pursuing a political agenda at the expense of your shareholders, that’s not just impacting very wealthy people, it impacts hard-working people who were police officers, firefighters and teachers in terms of the pension.”

DeSantis said ignoring the development would mean not following a fiduciary duty to do what’s best for shareholders. The governor said the state is considering launching an inquiry into Bud Light and AB InBev and that the inquiry could lead to a derivative lawsuit filed on behalf of the shareholders of the Florida pension fund.

“At the end of the day, there’s gotta be penalties for when you put business aside to focus on your social agenda at the expense of hard-working people,” DeSantis said.

“I definitely think you’re going to end up seeing that [litigation] because the value has just plummeted, and I think it all goes back to pursuing a social agenda over what makes the best sense economically,” he added.

DeSantis sent a letter to Florida’s State Board of Administration, which manages the pension fund, of how AB InBev impacts the state’s holdings value in the company and reviewing the company’s conduct.

Produced in association with Benzinga

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