BRAZIL: AmBev renews buyback scheme

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AmBev, the world's fifth largest brewer and Brazil's leading beverage company, is to renew its R$200m buyback programme of common and preferred shares announced on January 23, 2003.

The company said the current program is valid for another period of 90 days. Should the total amount used to acquire shares be below the established limit over the next 90 days, the Board of Directors may continue to renew the buyback program for successive 90-day periods, AmBev said in a statement.

Over the next 90 days, AmBev may repurchase up to 239,384,641 common shares and 1,635,896,173 preferred shares, representing 6.65% and 7.67% of the respective free float in each class (i.e. 3,601,645,480 common shares and 21,331,530,445 preferred shares). Since January 23, 2003 the company acquired 238,995,371 shares totaling R$115 million.

"Through the renewal of the share buyback program and, upon completion, through the frequent issuance of new buyback programs, AmBev keeps its policy of continuously enhancing shareholder value by combining an efficient use of its strong cash flow generation with a wise management of its capital structure, as evidenced by its investment grade rating in local currency. After investing in core activities that increase profits to shareholders, the Company also remains committed in returning cash to shareholders through share buybacks and dividends, the company said.

In 2002, AmBev repurchased R$337 million worth of shares and dividends paid totaled R$335 million, evidencing the Company's long-term strategy of returning excess cash to investors.

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