The City of Sterling Heights General Employees’ Retirement System has accused Anheuser-Busch of a scheme to artificially inflate its shares. The system filed a complaint against A-B with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on June 21, claiming the world’s largest beer manufacturer violated the Securities and Exchange Act, according to Legal Newsline.
The plaintiff alleges that when InBev acquired Anheuser-Busch in 2008, it caused substantial debt for A-B, despite telling investors “they had been deleveraging Anheuser-Busch in a manner that was consistent with the company’s internal targets.” The lawsuit claims that this misled investors about the company’s finances. A-B stated in its Q3 earnings results last year it had “slashed its dividend by 50 percent to accelerate deleveraging toward our optimal capital structure of around a 2x net debt to EBITDA ratio.” The suit claims A-B share prices declined in response to this announcement.
The system, which is seeking jury trial, claims A-B’s actions misled the public about the company and its value, which affected the retirement system.