Anheuser-Busch Taps Big Law Partner to Return in Top Deals Post

Anheuser-Busch has brought back former in-house lawyer James “Jamie” Mathis, a corporate partner at Husch Blackwell, to be its top transactional attorney.

Mathis, who was chair of the law firm’s alcoholic beverage practice group, rejoined the company in mid-April. He succeeds Thomas Larson, who led a team responsible for U.S. transactional legal matters, Anheuser-Busch spokeswoman Kaitlin Craig said.

Mathis comes aboard as the company’s parent, Anheuser-Busch InBev, took a $1.1 billion hit in April by exiting a Russian joint venture. Anheuser-Busch InBev is the world’s largest brewer with brands such as Budweiser, Beck’s and Stella Artois.

Mathis, who was an associate general counsel at Anheuser-Busch between 2004 and 2010, joined Husch Blackwell in 2011. Over the following years he served as the beer giant’s primary U.S. transactional lawyer, Larson said via LinkedIn.

Larson is now vice president of corporate for Anheuser-Busch InBev after spending nearly three decades at Anheuser-Busch. Larson and Mathis are based in St. Louis, where legacy Anheuser-Busch was sold to Belgium-based InBev for $52 billion in 2008.

Larson declined to discuss his in-house transition at Anheuser-Busch InBev. Mathis didn’t respond to a request for comment about his return to the company as senior associate general counsel for mergers and acquisitions, corporate, and commercial.

In a statement posted to LinkedIn, Mathis said he was “humbled to step into the shoes” of Larson and “lead the fantastic team” he built.

Larson, in a separate statement posted to LinkedIn, praised former Anheuser-Busch lawyers Frederick Kruger and Stephen Volland. Both successively oversaw in-house corporate legal affairs for roughly 15 years with “highly demanding clients” like former Anheuser-Busch chairman August Busch III and Carlos Brito, who stepped down last year as chief executive officer for Anheuser-Busch InBev.

“For my part, I tried to live up the examples of Fred and Steve, although often failing,” Larson said. He added that he has “every confidence that James is going to build on and exceed the accomplishments of Steve, Fred, and me.”

Husch Blackwell

Husch Blackwell spokesman Mike Lavieri said that partner Steven Levine, head of the firm’s food and agribusiness industry unit, will serve as interim leader of its alcohol and beverage practice until a successor is named.

“We thank Jamie for his 11-plus years of service at Husch Blackwell and wish him the best of luck as he returns to Anheuser-Busch,” Lavieri said.

The firm, with roots in Missouri, has enjoyed close ties to Anheuser-Busch. John Godar, a three-decade veteran at the company, where he was most recently an associate general counsel, joined Husch Blackwell as of counsel last year. In February, Anheuser-Busch hired Husch Blackwell associate Rachel Taylor as an associate general counsel.

Anheuser-Busch promoted former senior associate general counsel for litigation and liability Seth Hawkins last year to be its general counsel. Hawkins took over the role from Craig Katerberg, who is now chief legal and corporate affairs officer for the company’s Asia-Pacific unit, Budweiser Brewing Co.

John Blood is chief legal and corporate affairs officer for Anheuser-Busch InBev, which in 2016 completed its $103 billion takeover of South African brewer SABMiller PLC. Katherine Barrett is general counsel for Anheuser-Busch InBev.

The company has agreed to use an Anheuser-Busch facility in Newark, N.J., to produce Chernigivske, a popular Ukrainian beer. Proceeds from its sale will be used to fund humanitarian relief for the war-torn country.

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