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Ex-CEO testifies in Anheuser-Busch bias trial

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 6, 2014 at 6:32 pm •  Published: May 6, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Another former Anheuser-Busch CEO defended the beer maker's executive pay plan Tuesday in a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by a one-time top-ranking female executive.

August Busch IV's testimony in St. Louis Circuit Court mirrored remarks made last week by his father August Busch III, who preceded the younger Busch as the company's chief executive.

The 49-year-old retiree was also asked to justify his own compensation — including the multi-year, $120,000-a-month consulting contract he received after the 2008 sale of the company to Belgian brewer InBev.

Former employee Francine Katz sued the brewer in 2009, soon after she left the company where she had worked for two decades. Even though she earned roughly $1 million annually after her 2002 promotion to vice president of communications and consumer affairs and elevation to the company's influential strategy committee, Katz still earned less than half of what her male predecessor was paid, the lawsuit claims.

The younger Busch — the great-great-grandson of Anheuser Busch's founder — largely dropped out of public view after the InBev purchase, which he opposed. He told the jury of seven women and five men that he "gave everything I could to not make that happen. ... The shareholders went for the money."

Wearing a suit and cowboy boots, which also was his father's signature look, August Busch IV was considerably less verbose than Busch the elder, whose testimony four days earlier was marked by verbal sparring with a Katz attorney and several admonishments by the judge. Pat Stokes, the Anheuser-Busch CEO whose tenure bridged the two Busches, also testified on Tuesday.

To counter a Katz claim that August Busch III avoided a contentious conversation with her for fear she would cry, the ex-CEO known as "The Fourth" said that his father's hair-trigger temper was guided neither by gender nor familial loyalties.

"I got a lot of it," Busch said. "I tried to stay in front and take as many bullets as possible."

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