March 24, 2020 / 8:33 AM / 17 days ago

AB InBev scraps 2020 outlook as coronavirus crisis expands

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI.BR), the world’s largest brewer, said on Tuesday it was scrapping its 2020 outlook as the scale of the coronavirus increased.

The Belgium-based maker of Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona had forecast at the end of February that core profit (EBITDA) would decline by 10% in the first quarter and by between 2 and 5% for the full year.

At the time, the coronavirus crisis was largely confined to China.

“Since 27 February 2020, the scale and magnitude of COVID-19 has increased significantly, resulting in restrictions imposed on many customers, as well as other limitations and social distancing measures in many countries in mid-March,” the company said in a statement

“Given the uncertainty, volatility and fast-moving developments of the pandemic in the markets in which AB InBev operates, the company is withdrawing that 2020 outlook in its entirety because of the impact of COVID-19,” it said.

The company said it was pressing ahead with a $11 billion sale to Asahi Group Holdings (2502.T) of its Australian operations and hoped to get regulatory approvals to allow the deal to close as soon as possible in the second quarter of 2020.

The deal had initially been set to close in the first quarter.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Jason Neely

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