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Anheuser-Busch Cos. said Thursday that billionaire Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has acquired a "significant" stake in the nation's largest beermaker.

It did not reveal how much of a stake Buffett's holding company bought, saying only that the brewer learned recently Berkshire Hathaway "has become a significant shareholder" it welcomes.

An Anheuser-Busch spokesman said that company was "not in a position to go beyond what's in the news release."

Analysts said Berkshire's interest in Anheuser-Busch could be viewed as a vote of confidence by Buffett in the brewer's long-term potential despite its recent struggles as the U.S. beer business has softened. Earlier this month, Anheuser-Busch cut its earnings forecast for 2005 for the second time this year, citing weaker-than-expected U.S. beer volume in the first quarter.

"When the near-term prospects are flatter than day-old beer, this is wonderful" for Anheuser-Busch, Juli Niemann, a St. Louis-based analyst with RT Jones Capital Equities, said of Buffett's stake. "The consensus is that he always buys good value."

The Buffalo News is a division of Berkshire Hathaway.

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