Anheuser-Busch agreed to be acquired by Belgian brewer InBev for about $52 billion in a deal that would shift ownership of the nation's...

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ST. LOUIS — Anheuser-Busch agreed to be acquired by Belgian brewer InBev for about $52 billion in a deal that would shift ownership of the nation’s largest brewer overseas, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

The deal, subject to shareholders’ and regulators’ approval, would create the world’s largest brewer and fourth-largest consumer-product company.

The newspaper cited anonymous sources who said Anheuser-Busch-InBev would be the new company’s name and Anheuser would have two seats on the board.

Anheuser-Busch Cos. did not return messages seeking comment Sunday evening.

The newspaper said the deal was for $70 a share, a $5 increase over the offer Anheuser-Busch rejected in June.

InBev, the maker of Stella Artois and Becks, is the world’s second-largest beer-maker behind SABMiller. Anheuser-Busch is by far the largest brewer in the U.S., with more than 48 percent of the market share.

It wasn’t immediately clear how long approval might take from regulators and shareholders.

Several Missouri politicians have expressed concerns about the merger — especially how it would affect the 6,000 people employed by Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis.

InBev has said it plans to use St. Louis as its North American headquarters and keep open all 12 of Anheuser-Busch’s North American breweries.

The merger, if completed, would bring to an end one of the most iconic names in American business and a name synonymous with St. Louis.

InBev has not said if layoffs will occur as a result of the merger. But some cutbacks seem likely.

Even without the merger, Anheuser-Busch said last month it planned to cut pension and health benefits for salaried employees as part of an effort to slash $1 billion in costs by the end of 2010.

The plan called for offering early retirement to 1,300 salaried workers 55 and older.

The cost-cutting effort was part of a strategy to fend off the merger.

The beer industry has been consolidating in recent years amid rising costs for transportation fuel and key ingredients.