AB Inbev slashes dividend in half

AB Inbev has slashed its proposed dividend in half due to the uncertainty, volatility and continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move will save the world’s largest brewer around €1 billion. AB Inbev said reducing the dividend was a “prudent” move in the current climate.

“COVID-19 is changing everyone’s lives in unprecedented ways,” said chief executive Carlos Brito. “However, it has not changed who we are or what we stand for at AB InBev. Our purpose remains more relevant than ever: bringing people together for a better world.

“Today, for us it means joining efforts to prioritize each other’s health and safety, to help our communities where we can and to support our operations. I am proud to see our colleagues around the world working tirelessly with our partners, retailers, bars, pubs and restaurants to support their long-term business success, and finding new ways to connect with our consumers.

“The commitment, ingenuity and sense of urgency of our people will continue to take us forward.”

Bars across the world have been forced to close due to the coronavirus lockdowns that are in place, and that is expected to hit beer volumes. Carlsberg and Heineken are among the major brewers to withdraw their earnings outlook for 2020.

Companies have withdrawn more than $50 billion in dividends since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to Bloomberg.  

Last month, AB Inbev has drawn down the entirety of a $9bn loan facility from global banks. It had previously reported more than $280 million in lost sales as a result of the lockdowns in China, and the coronavirus has since spread around the world.

The brewer also had to halt production of Corona after it was deemed a non-essential service in Mexico.

The Belgian-based firm’s share price stood at €74.49 on January 2 and decreased to $30.97 by mid-March, but it stood at €43.62 when trading last closed.

It has around $95bn in debt following an ambitious expansion drive that saw it swallow rivals like SAB Miller in recent years.