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Marlboro Parent Altria Group Sells $2.2bn Stake In Bud Light Owner

The producer of Marlboro cigarettes, Altria Group, has announced plans to divest over $2.2 billion (£1.7 billion) worth of shares in AB InBev, the parent company of popular beer brands Bud Light and Stella Artois. This maneuver entails Altria selling off 35 million shares in AB InBev.

Presently, the tobacco giant holds a stake of approximately 10% in the world’s largest brewer, valued at around $12.7 billion. Bud Light has experienced a decline in sales following a boycott in the United States over its collaboration with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Altria’s CEO, Billy Gifford, described the sale as “an opportunistic transaction that realizes a portion of the substantial return on our long-term investment.”

He emphasized the company’s ongoing confidence in AB InBev’s long-term strategies, premium global brands, and experienced management team. In a filing with regulators, Belgium-based AB InBev disclosed its agreement to repurchase $200 million of its shares from Altria. In February, the company, which also boasts a portfolio of other major beer brands such as Beck’s, Corona, and Leffe, reported a 9.5% decline in annual revenues in the US, primarily attributed to the decreased volume of Bud Light.

Nevertheless, AB InBev experienced a 7.8% increase in total revenues globally, contributing to profits surpassing $6.1 billion in 2023. Bud Light faced significant backlash after sending a personalized beer can to Ms. Mulvaney for an online post. Shortly thereafter, industry analysts noted that Model, distributed in the US by a competitor, had overtaken Bud Light as the top-selling beer in the country, with contenders like Coors Light and Miller Light gaining momentum.

Ms. Mulvaney’s social media endorsement of the beer with her personalized personality can prompt criticism from many on the right, accusing the company of adopting “woke” stances. “Woke,” an informal term originating from the US, refers to being alert to social injustices, particularly racism and sexism, and is often used derisively by the right toward left-leaning views on issues ranging from climate change to minority support.

In response to the backlash, musician Kid Rock, NFL player Trae Waynes, and model Bri Teresi shared videos of themselves shooting Bud Light cans. AB InBev’s shares listed in the US dipped nearly 4% in extended trading in New York following the announcement. Ms

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