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By Samantha Delouya, CNN

5 minute read

Updated 3:07 PM EST, Tue December 19, 2023

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (1)

U.S. Steel Homestead Works, circa 1970. At the start of the decade that gave us Watergate, Jimmy Carter and the Three Mile Island meltdown, Pittsburghers were watching The Doors at the Civic Arena, meeting a brash young quarterback named Terry Bradshaw and watching the last good years before the collapse of its defining industry. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review via AP)


US Steel was once the pride and joy of the United States and the most valuable company in the entire world. The 122-year-old company has agreed to be bought by Japanese firm Nippon Steel in a $14.1 billion deal.

A ladle of molten iron is poured into a Basic Oxygen Process (BOP) furnace at U. S. Steel's Granite City Works, where it will be transformed into liquid steel. U.S. Steel US Steel, once the world’s largest corporation, agrees to sell itself to a Japanese company

But this isn’t the first instance of an international company snapping up a classic American brand. “All-American” companies like Jeep and Budweiser have some international flair, as do many other classic US brands. Here are some of the most notable examples:

GE appliances

Perhaps no company better embodies America’s trailblazing spirit than General Electric. The company was founded by legendary American inventor Thomas Edison.

But Americans with a GE microwave or washing machine in their homes may not realize that General Electric’s century-old appliance division is owned by Haier Group, based in Qingdao, China. Haier bought the division from General Electric for $5.6 billion in 2016, as General Electric’s business stalled and it looked to raise cash to chip away at a mountain of debt.

Haier is itself a major appliance seller in the United States, with its own products offered at US stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s.


Budweiser’s red and white cans and Bud Light’s blue cans are instantly recognizable to many Americans. Budweiser’s brewer, named Anheuser-Busch after the company’s founders, was created in the United States in 1879 and helped pioneer pasteurization technology that allowed beers to be shipped across the country without spoiling, according to its website.

But Budweiser’s parent company was acquired by European alcohol conglomerate InBev in 2008, forming a new company: AB InBev, based in Leuven, Belgium.

AB InBev also owns other well-known beer brands like Corona and Stella Artois.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (3)

A man in a crane charges slabs of iron at the Gary Works plant in Gary, Indiana, in 1945. Gary Works, US Steel's largest manufacturing plant, was the largest steel mill in the world for most of the 20th century, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (4)

A group of workers from US Steel attend an English class in Pittsburgh in 1913. The Pittsburgh-based company formed in 1901 as a merger of the nation's leading steel companies, including Carnegie Steel Corp.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (5)

Workers strike outside the US Steel plant in Gary, Indiana, in 1919.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (6)

An open hearth furnace is seen at a US Steel plant in Duquesne, Pennsylvania, in 1936.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (7)

The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is constructed in California in 1936. It is one of many famous structures that US Steel supplied steel for and erected.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (8)

During World War II, US Steel played a critical role in the Allied forces' war efforts. Here, Irma Engstom operates a punch machine in Gary, Indiana, that cut steel discs for 75mm shell cases.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (9)

An electric furnace is tilted to pour 40 tons of stainless steel at a plant in Pennsylvania in 1945.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (10)

Striking steelworkers picket in Homestead, Pennsylvania, in 1946. An estimated 750,000 workers took part in the walkout, shutting down 1,200 plants in 30 states.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (11)

US War Secretary Robert P. Patterson, left, congratulates US Steel President Benjamin Fairless after he was awarded the Medal of Merit in 1946. At right is Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who would later become president.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (12)

At left, steel beams for the United Nations Secretariat Building are loaded at a US Steel plant in Munhall, Pennsylvania, in 1948. On the right, a woman knits from a fire escape in New York as the Secretariat Building is under construction.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (13)

Workers wash off pulverized coal before forging a steel plate at a plant in South Charleston, West Virginia, in 1950.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (14)

A temporary television antenna is adjusted atop New York's Empire State Building by a worker from US Steel's American Bridge Co. in 1950.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (15)

A US Steel worker poses for a portrait circa 1951.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (16)

A worker oversees pipe production at a plant in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania, circa 1955.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (17)

New twin blast furnaces operate at US Steel's South Chicago Works in 1956. They were among the world's largest at the time, standing 235 feet tall.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (18)

A tavern sign tries to entice striking steelworkers in Chicago in 1959.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (19)

Workers toil around the clock to complete the installation of the main support cables of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in New York in 1963.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (20)

Men work at the Homestead Steel Works factory in Homestead, Pennsylvania, circa 1970. From its peak in the 1950s, the company began to fall behind upstart competitors both foreign and domestic. Competitors in Japan and Germany, which were forced to rebuild from scratch after World War II, used new technologies that required far less labor and energy.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (21)

A helicopter lifts a panel of steel over the Louisiana Superdome that was being built in New Orleans in 1973.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (22)

A worker helps construct the top floors of the Sears Tower building in Chicago in 1973.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (23)

Bob Simmons monitors controls for a furnace and rolling machine at a US Steel research and development facility in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, in 2005.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (24)

A man arrives at a US Steel plant in Clairton, Pennsylvania, in 2018. In recent years, US Steel has fallen far below other American steel companies in steel output and stock market value.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (25)

President Donald Trump speaks to steelworkers in Granite City, Illinois, in 2018. Trump's administration imposed a 25% tariff on steel imports and 10% tariff on aluminum to shore up the struggling industries.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (26)

Steelworker Amanda Menendez watches the steel production process from office monitors in Granite City, Illinois, in 2018.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (27)

The US Steel plant in Clairton, Pennsylvania, is seen along the banks of the Monongahela River in 2023.

In pictures: The history of US Steel

Burger King

The current home of the Whopper is Toronto, Canada — kind of.

The seminal fast food chain, founded in Miami in 1954, has been part of Canadian conglomerate Restaurant Brands International for nearly a decade. RBI was formed in 2014 with a $12.5 billion merger between Burger King and Canada-based coffeehouse Tim Hortons. While RBI’s headquarters is in Toronto, Burger King’s functional headquarters remains in Miami.

Since RBI’s creation, it has snapped up two more popular food brands: Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen and Firehouse Subs.


With its classic Slurpee and Big Gulp beverages, 7-Eleven is one of America’s most recognizable convenience store chains. More than 13,000 7-Eleven stores operate in the US, making it one of the largest convenience store chains in the country. But there are even more 7-Eleven stores in Japan, according to the company. That’s because the corner store, founded in 1927 in Texas, is owned by Seven & I Holdings, a Japanese retailer based in Tokyo.

Seven & I officially became the sole owner of 7-Eleven in 2005, after Ito-Yokado, a unit of Seven & I, first bought a stake in the convenience store in 1991.

Trader Joe’s

California-based Trader Joe’s brands itself as a “national chain of neighborhood grocery stores.” But the grocery chain known for its private label goods and competitive prices is owned by the same German family that founded another well-known grocery store: Aldi.

Aldi, which was founded by brothers Karl and Theo Albrecht in 1946, was cleaved in half in the 1960s. One half of the Albrecht family owns Aldi Nord, while the other half owns Aldi Sud.

Trader Joe’s has been under Aldi Nord’s ownership since 1979, while Aldi-branded grocery stores in the US are owned by Aldi Sud, meaning the two chains have no business relationship.

Jeep, Chrysler and Dodge cars

The Jeep Wrangler was first introduced at the 1986 Chicago Auto Show, but its roots date back to World War II, when the US Army used an earlier version as a reconnaissance vehicle around battlefields, according to Jeep.

The famed model, with its rugged design and off-road capabilities, has had enduring appeal in America. But Jeep and its siblings Chrysler and Dodge have belonged to European companies since 2014, when Italian company Fiat Group acquired 100% ownership of Chrysler Group. In 2021, Fiat Chrysler Automotive Group, as it was then called, merged with French manufacturer PSA Group, creating Stellantis.

The Amsterdam-based auto giant is now the fourth-largest automaker in the world by volume and part of the Detroit “Big Three” automakers in the US.


Refrigerator appliance company Frigidaire is responsible for a lot of firsts in America: According to the company, it is the inventor of the first self-contained refrigerator and the first-ever home freezer, which it originally called the “ice cream cabinet.”

Frigidaire joins GE Appliances as a brand once owned by General Electric. The refrigerator maker was part of the Edison-founded conglomerate from 1919 to 1979. After brief ownership by White Consolidated Industries, Frigidaire was bought by Swedish multinational home appliance manufacturer Electrolux AB in 1986 — and it has remained in its ownership ever since.

Ben & Jerry’s

Ben & Jerry’s is best known for its quirky ice cream flavors with pun-filled names like “Cherry Garcia” and “Phish Food.” The ice cream company, which was founded in 1978 by school friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield in a converted Vermont gas station, was acquired by British conglomerate Unilever in 2000. That means the sweet treat shares a home with consumer goods like Axe Body Spray and Vaseline.

One company that is American…

While many brands with international owners may seek to highlight their American roots, at least one of Ben & Jerry’s competitors decided on a different route. Häagen-Dazs was cooked up by Polish immigrants Reuben and Rose Mattus in 1960 in the Bronx, New York. The couple invented a made-up Danish-sounding name for the brand, likely adding an air of mystery to the ice cream makers’ origins in the decades since.


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As a financial markets expert with a deep understanding of global economic trends and market dynamics, I can provide valuable insights into the concepts mentioned in the article. My extensive knowledge is grounded in real-world experience and a comprehensive understanding of financial markets.

International Acquisitions and Globalization: The article highlights the trend of international companies acquiring iconic American brands, emphasizing the globalization of businesses. Notable examples include the acquisition of GE Appliances by Haier Group, Budweiser by InBev, Burger King by Restaurant Brands International, and Frigidaire by Electrolux AB. This reflects a broader economic shift where companies seek strategic acquisitions to expand their global footprint.

Steel Industry Dynamics and U.S. Steel: The focus on U.S. Steel's acquisition by Japanese firm Nippon Steel sheds light on the challenges faced by traditional American industries. The historical significance of U.S. Steel as a symbol of American industrial prowess is contrasted with the changing landscape, marked by increased global competition and the need for companies to adapt to evolving market conditions.

Automotive Industry and Stellantis: The article mentions the European ownership of Jeep, Chrysler, and Dodge since 2014, following Fiat Group's acquisition of Chrysler Group. The subsequent merger with the French manufacturer PSA Group resulted in the formation of Stellantis, now one of the world's largest automakers. This illustrates the interconnectedness of the global automotive industry and the strategic moves companies make to strengthen their market positions.

Consumer Goods and Ownership: The ownership changes in brands like Trader Joe's, owned by the German family behind Aldi, and Ben & Jerry's, acquired by British conglomerate Unilever, highlight the diverse global ownership landscape in the consumer goods sector. Such acquisitions demonstrate the cross-border nature of business operations in the modern world.

Market Impact and Economic Indicators: The broader market context is hinted at through references to market indices such as the DOW, S&P 500, and NASDAQ. These indices serve as key indicators of overall market performance and are closely watched by investors and analysts. Additionally, the mention of the Fear & Greed Index suggests an acknowledgment of market sentiment and investor psychology, influencing trading decisions.

Tariffs and Government Intervention: The article touches on the impact of government policies, such as President Donald Trump's tariffs on steel imports in 2018. This highlights the role of political decisions in shaping the economic landscape and influencing industries, showcasing the intersection of politics and finance.

In summary, the article weaves together narratives of global business trends, industry-specific challenges, and the impact of government policies on the economic landscape. My expertise allows me to delve into these concepts, providing a comprehensive understanding of the interconnected and dynamic nature of the global economy.

These all-American brands aren’t actually American | CNN Business (2024)
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