Cindy McCain may reap benefits of Anheuser-Busch takeover bid

Published: 06.13.2008
By Jonathan D. Salant and Kristin Jensen

Cindy McCain, the wife of presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, may see a fortune of at least $8.5 million rise with a proposed takeover of beermaker Anheuser- Busch Co., financial disclosures show.

Cindy McCain owned more than $1 million of Anheuser-Busch shares at the end of last year, according to a Senate disclosure form filed by her husband and released today. News of the $46.3 billion unsolicited bid from InBev NV has sent the company’s shares soaring, up about 17 percent from Dec. 31.

The exact size of the potential windfall is unknown because the financial forms require lawmakers and their spouses to list only ranges for the values of their assets, and one option is to simply say “over $1 million.” Messages left with McCain’s Senate office and campaign weren’t immediately returned.

InBev made the $65-per-share offer for the maker of Budweiser beer on June 11, and Anheuser-Busch said it would consider the bid. A transaction would unite Budweiser, the lager first brewed 132 years ago in St. Louis, with InBev’s Stella Artois, Bass and more than 200 other brands.

Cindy McCain also owns a beer distributorship, Hensley & Co., worth more than $1 million. She reported liabilities of between $2.8 million and $5.5 million, owing money on King Aviation, the private jet company whose planes were used by her husband during the campaign, as well as construction, credit and promissory notes.

John McCain’s only assets were a checking account and money market account, valued at $16,000 to $65,000, two joint checking accounts worth between $2,000 and $30,000, and his Navy pension of $58,358. He received $176,508 in book royalties, which he donated to charity.

Because Arizona Senator McCain is running for president, the U.S. Office of Government Ethics required his wife to liquidate her blind trust because it was set up under Senate rules, not Executive Branch requirements. Among her stock holdings were CBS Corp. and General Electric Co., which own two of the four major television networks, Exxon Mobil Corp., and Goldman Sachs Group. New York Senator Hillary Clinton faced a similar requirement during her presidential campaign.

Cindy McCain last month released two pages of her 2006 tax returns, showing income of $6.1 million, including $4.6 million from real estate. She hasn’t filed her 2007 returns. The McCains keep their finances separate and file separate returns.

McCain, 71, will be taking on presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama, 46. Obama, an Illinois senator, also filed a disclosure form that showed he and his wife Michelle had assets of $2 million to $7 million at the end of last year, mostly in bank accounts and mutual funds. One money market account was worth as much as $5 million.

The Obamas, who have two daughters, also bought into two college savings plans in transactions worth between $100,000 and $250,000 each, according to the disclosure form.

With reporting by Lizzie O’Leary, William McQuillen and Julianna Goldman in Washington.

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