Anheuser-Busch, has announced that it will eliminate “1,400 U.S. salaried positions in its beer-related divisions, affecting about 6 percent of the company’s total U.S. workforce.” Plus, 250 vacant positions will not be filled and 415 independent contractors will also be cut. This is in addition to 1000+ employees who chose a voluntary enhanced early retirement. Merry Christmas everybody!!

From the press release (pdf):

Anheuser-Busch InBev (Euronext: ABI) today announced that, as part of its previously announced plans to effectively integrate Anheuser-Busch Inc., the U.S. business unit today communicated plans to cut approximately 1,400 U.S. salaried positions in its beer-related divisions, affecting about 6 percent of the company’s total U.S. workforce.

About 75 percent of the affected positions are based at the brewer’s corporate headquarters in St. Louis, at downtown offices or at its Sunset Hills campus, while other reductions will occur in field and brewery locations.  In addition, more than 250 U.S. positions that are currently open will not be filled.  An additional 415 contractor positions will be eliminated. Most of the reductions will occur by the end of this year, with the remainder taking effect next year.

“To keep the business strong and competitive, this is a necessary but difficult move for the company,” said David A. Peacock, president of Anheuser-Busch.  “We will assist in the transition for these employees as much as possible.  The people of Anheuser-Busch dedicate themselves to the business, and we appreciate all of their contributions.”

The company will provide employees severance pay and pension benefits based on age and years of service. Employees also will be offered additional benefits during the transition, including outplacement services.

The announced workforce reductions are in addition to the more than 1,000 U.S. salaried employees company-wide who accepted the company’s voluntary enhanced retirement program, which closed November 14 and provided special benefits for eligible employees retiring by the end of 2008.  The retirements were part of planned cost reductions of 1 billionUSD, called project Blue Ocean, announced by Anheuser-Busch in June 2008.  At that time, the company announced plans to reduce its company-wide U.S. full-time salaried workforce of 8,600 by 10 to 15 percent before the year end.  The company’s other Blue Ocean cost reductions remain on track.

Bargaining unit employees at the company’s 12 U.S. breweries are unaffected by the reductions announced today.

“Managing our costs is important in building and maintaining a successful business, especially in a challenging economy,” said Peacock.  “We are pleased with our U.S. beer sales, we will continue to invest in growing our brands and we will always look for ways to become more efficient.  Decisions like this are never easy, but they will ensure the long-term success for Anheuser-Busch and our employees.”