A-B ambulance chaser

The Madison County Record Jun. 22, 2008, 5:33pm

A capitalist would protest by selling their shares.

Judy Cates is no capitalist.

So it goes in the battle over Bud. The socialist wealth redistributionist, would-be judicial activist's reaction to a rich buyout offer of one of St. Louis' proudest corporations isn't to put her money elsewhere, but to sue.

Sue who? Sue somebody...anybody.

And Judy Cates, once again, has sued. She should consider changing her name to Sue.

The Swansea trial lawyer, infamous for her comically grasping class action suit against Publisher's Clearing House, and her anti-dress code jihad against the Belleville School District, apparently still craves notoriety.

This week, she stepped into the most fevered fracas in town, filing a class action lawsuit in St. Louis County Circuit Court against Anheuser-Busch. It accuses the company of breaching its "fiduciary duty" to shareholders by rebuffing a takeover bid by Brazilian brewer InBev.

Not that the offer has been rebuffed. Or that some character like Cates understands the wealth creator principle of fiduciary duty.

With visions of legal fees dancing in her head, Cates has chosen to play the villain. Her lawsuit is a thumb in the eye to most St. Louisians, whose opposition to the deal is so strong that local Brazilian popularity soon might resemble that of the Soviet Union circa 1980.

We'll call her brave for daring to take such a publicly unpopular position. But that doesn't make her argument-- that Bud investor-clients' rights would be violated if Bud directors don't vote to take the money and run-- any less ridiculous. Nor does it make her tactics any less frivolous.

Bud investors have the most important right that doesn't require a lawsuit. They can sell their stock.

Indeed, InBev has made a tempting buy offer--some 35 percent higher than A-B's current share price. Many analysts say it is worth taking. Many shareholders wish the company would.

But businesses aren't democracies.

A-B's fate is up to A-B's Board of Directors. Period.

Bud's future shouldn't be dictated in our courts. And Judy Cates, of all people, should have nothing to say about it.

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