Altria Becomes Major Shareholder In Anheuser-Busch, Triples Share Buyback Program

By Tomi KilgoreMarketsMarketWatch Pulse

Altria Group Inc. said Tuesday that it has become a significant shareholder in Anheuser-Busch InBev S.A. , following the completion of Anheuser-Busch's merger with SABMiller PLC . Altria received 185.1 million shares, or 9.6% of the shares outstanding, of Anheuser-Busch, and about $5.3 billion in cash. The smoking and wine company said it will record a gain of $13.7 billion, or $4.55 a share, mostly in the fourth quarter, as a result of the merger. As a result of the how the gain will be accounted for, Altria trimmed its 2016 adjusted earnings-per-share outlook to $2.98 to $3.04 from $3.01 to $3.07. Separately, Altria said it was expanding its share buyback program to $3 billion from $1 billion, to be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2018. The stock, which was still inactive in premarket trade, has climbed 7.3% year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 4%.

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