Ladies and gents, THIS is how you run a business

Thu, Mar 4

Cristiano Ronaldo? Messi? Rooney? Truth be told, I have no idea who will emerge as the conquering on-field hero of the upcoming World Cup. However, I'm pretty sure the off-pitch MVP already has been decided.

Soccer lovers, how about a round of applause for SABMiller?

Grolsch beer
AP Photo/James A. Finley

What's SABMiller? Only one of the world's largest brewers, the six-continent corporate juggernaut behind Pilsner Urquell, Grolsch and Miller Genuine Draft. Why is the company poised for World Cup immortality? Because it reportedly will be ramping up suds production before the tournament, and plans to -- no joke -- have refrigerated vans on standby near South African soccer venues, as well as dedicated telephone numbers for customers to dial if they need "emergency supplies."


Finally -- after Enron and Bear Stearns and Isiah Thomas' tenure with the New York Knicks and all the rest, an honest-to-goodness example of corporate responsibility! A paragon of enlightened foresight! A bright, shining keg on a hill! Indeed, it's difficult not to wonder how some of the biggest blunders in human history might have played out differently if only the wise, Solomonic minds running SABMiller had been calling the shots:

Without SABMiller: Franz Ferdinand's driver takes wrong turn, allowing Serbian nationalist to assassinate the archduke and trigger the war.
With SABMiller: Ferdinand, driver too loaded to get behind wheel; call street-savvy local cabbie instead.

Without SABMiller: Portland Trail Blazers draft Kentucky big man, passing on Michael Jordan.
With SABMiller: Deep into third case, Blazers execs select Jordan, figuring an MJ-Clyde Drexler backcourt is so crazy, it just might work.

Without SABMiller: Federal government's free-market-worshipping financial decision-makers ignore internal warnings about perils of unregulated big-money black-box market for derivatives and credit-default swaps.
With SABMiller: Loose and buzzed, Fed decision-makers decline to take "Atlas Shrugged" seriously; agree to sensible public market oversight.

Without SABMiller: Carefully considered 1974 Cleveland Indians promotion devolves into real-life Hieronymus Bosch painting.
With SABMiller: Oops. No difference!