Brewer AB InBev halves final dividend and pushes back AGM

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of Anheuser-Busch InBev pictured outside the brewer’s headquarters in Leuven, Belgium, February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI.BR), the world’s largest brewer, proposes to halve its final dividend and has postponed its annual shareholder meeting owing to uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic.

The maker of Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois on Tuesday said that it is proposing to pay a final 2019 dividend of 0.50 euros per share, down from the 1 euro it had initially proposed. It paid an interim dividend of 0.80 euros in November.

The halved final dividend will save the company about 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) and help to ease the debt burden from its 2016 purchase of SABMiller for about $100 billion.

At the end of 2019 AB InBev’s net debt stood at $95.5 billion.

The brewer also said its annual shareholder meeting will be pushed back to June 3 from April 29, which means that payment of its final dividend will be postponed to June 11 from early May.

The company, the largest markets of which are the United States and Brazil, withdrew its 2020 outlook guidance three weeks ago..

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by David Goodman

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