Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has directed his government to investigate whether AB InBev, the parent company of Bud Light, breached its duties to shareholders following backlash over the beer brand's partnership with transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney. As DeSantis campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination, he instructed the State Board of Administration to review the impact of AB InBev's conduct on the value of the SBA's holdings in the company.
Shares of AB InBev have declined by approximately 2% this year, while the broader market has seen growth. Sales of Bud Light have also suffered due to conservative uproar and a boycott of the brand. Data from consulting firm Bump Williams reveals that Bud Light lost its top spot in the U.S. beer market to Constellation Brands' Modelo Especial, with Bud Light now holding 7% of overall beer sales compared to Modelo Especial's 8.7%. Sales of Bud Light have decreased by approximately 25% from the previous year, and the company's stock fell from $66 to $58 per share amid the boycott.
DeSantis suggested that the investigation could lead to a lawsuit on behalf of Florida's pension fund shareholders, accusing AB InBev of neglecting stakeholders and pensioners by associating with "radical social ideologies." In response, AB InBev stated that it takes its responsibilities to shareholders, employees, distributors, and customers seriously and is focused on driving long-term, sustainable growth.
This move against Bud Light is not the first time DeSantis has involved himself in a controversy over a social issue. He has been engaged in a contentious dispute with Disney for over a year after the company criticized Florida's bill restricting classroom discussions on gender identity. DeSantis is trailing former President Donald Trump by double digits in most national polls for the GOP primary race.