10 (un)American Icons

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When you think of 7-Eleven, the Chrysler Building, and Budweiser, what country comes to mind? If you said Japan, Abu Dhabi, and Belgium, then no need to read on. But if such news comes as a shock, keep reading to learn about ten un-American Icons this country holds dear.

1. Anheuser-Busch, Inc.
You've likely seen the Anheuser-Busch commercials that were shown during the Olympics. You know, the ones that are oozing with everything American "“ football, tailgating, the Statue of Liberty, riding motorcycles, playing in a garage band, and, of course, a fat slice of apple pie. In case you didn't get the hint, they're reminding you that their All American Ale is still All American. But it's not American at all! Earlier this year, Anheuser Busch Inc was bought by InBev, the Belgian brewer. The deal, soon to close, will make the new combined company "Anheuser Busch InBev" the largest beer company in the world.

2. The Chrysler Building
In July, the Abu Dhabi Investment Council's sovereign wealth fund bought a 90% stake in the Chrysler building for an estimated $800 million. The building management will remain under Tishman Speyer Properties, who owns the remaining 10%. Prior to Abu Dhabi's purchase, the majority (75%) of the building was owned by TMW, a German real estate fund.

3. The Plaza Hotel
The Plaza Hotel, near Central Park, is co-owned by Prince bin Alwaleed bin Talal and Israeli billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva's El-Ad Group. The hotel's ownership passed through the hands of the Hiltons and the Trumps until Trump sold to the partnership for $325 million in 1995.

4. Essex House in Manhattan
This landmark hotel was bought by the Dubai Investment Group in 2005 and is under management by the Dubai based hospitality group, Jumeriah. Jumeriah operates the only 7-star hotel in the world—the Burj Al Arab in the UAE.

5. 7-Eleven
Yes, 7-Eleven is a subsidiary of the Japanese company Seven & I Holdings. The company faced financial difficulties in the 80s, and was rescued by one of the franchisees in Japan. In the 90s, Seven & I bid for and received a controlling share of the company.

6. The Chicago Skyway
In 2005, the city of Chicago sold a 99-year lease on the eight-mile Chicago Skyway for $1.83 billion to the Skyway Concession Company, which is jointly owned by the Macquarie Infrastructure Group of Sydney, Australia, and the Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte of Madrid, Spain. Chicago used the money to pay off debt and fund road projects.

7. Indiana Toll Road
"The Crossroads of America" is owned by the crossroads of Spain and Australia. Like the Chicago Skyway, the Indiana Toll Road is owned by Macquarie Infrastructure Group.

bull1.jpg8. Merrill Lynch
The iconic bull down in Battery Park may no longer represent United States' economic fortitude. In January, ML raised $6.6 billion from the sale of its preferred stock to three foreign investors: Korean Investment Corporation, Japan's Mizuho Financial Group Inc, and the Kuwaiti Investment Authority.

9. Trader Joe's
Trader Joe, a manager of Rexall drugs, bought the Rexall store chain, changed the name and began offering exotic, environmental, and healthy food. In 1979 ALDI, a German company, bought out the company.

10. Genentech
The largest biotech firm in America is actually owned by the Swiss. In fact, they just made an unsolicited offer to acquire the 44% of the firm that it does not already own for about $44 billion.

Be sure to check out more of what Diana learned today here.

August 27, 2008 - 12:06pm
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