Trading in brewer AB InBev’s shares suspended by Belgian regulator

LONDON (Reuters) — Anheuser-Busch InBev’s shares were suspended from trading on Thursday pending the publication of a press release, Belgium’s Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) said without elaborating.

The news comes after U.S. cigarette maker Altria said on Wednesday it would cut its around 10% stake in AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer, selling around 35 million shares. Belgian multinational AB InBev plans to buy back $200 million worth of shares.

AB InBev did not immediately provide a comment on the share suspension.

In its press release on Altria’s planned sale, AB InBev said the tobacco company would remain a significant shareholder and that it looked forward to an ongoing relationship.

“We remain disciplined in our capital allocation decisions and participating in this offering is consistent with our strategy,” AB InBev CEO Michel Doukeris said.

The symbol for ABInBev appears at the post where it trades on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

James Edwardes Jones, analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said it was unsurprising Altria was selling down its holding in AB InBev.

“On balance, we feel that this is likely to act as a short-term brake on ABI’s share price but is of minimal longer-term significance,” he said in a note.

Despite a recent rally, the brewer’s share price still remains substantially lower versus levels seen in the last decade.

(Reporting by Emma Rumney; editing by Jason Neely)