By Nina Trentmann
Anheuser-Busch InBev SA said longtime finance chief Felipe Dutra will step down as part of a management shake-up at the Belgium-based brewer.
Fernando Tennenbaum, the company's vice president of finance for South America, will become the company's chief financial officer after its annual meeting on April 29, AB InBev said.
Mr. Dutra has been AB InBev's CFO since January 2005 and played a key role in building AB InBev -- the world's biggest brewer -- by striking various deals to integrate assets including Interbrew, Anheuser-Busch International, Modelo and SABMiller, analysts at Jefferies Financial Group said in a January note to clients. Mr. Dutra also was the company's technology officer.
"Felipe's departure is bittersweet," AB InBev Chief Executive Carlos Brito said in a release. "Felipe feels that now is the right time to embark on new projects, and we are respectful of that decision."
It was unclear why Mr. Dutra decided to step down. AB InBev, the maker of Budweiser, Stella Artois and Beck's beer, declined to comment beyond a news release. Mr. Dutra declined to comment on Wednesday.
The Financial Times reported in January that Mr. Dutra was planning to step down. AB InBev also declined to comment at the time.
Because of his record, analysts doubted Mr. Dutra would be forced out by AB InBev's board. Citigroup Inc. analysts predicted in January he would likely leave for personal reasons instead.
AB InBEv's stock has declined in recent years, and Mr. Dutra's departure could result in short-term uncertainty for the company's stock price, Citigroup analysts wrote last month.
"Rebuilding trust and confidence in AB InBev's thesis may take time, and evidence of delivery will be required to tempt many back into the story, " the analysts wrote.
Analysts speculated the company, known for having a deep bench of finance executives, would promote a new finance chief from within.
Mr. Tennenbaum is a 15-year veteran of the company. In addition to his current role as vice president of finance for South America, he is also CFO and investor relations officer for Brazilian subsidiary Ambev. Before that, he worked as global treasurer of AB InBev from 2012 to 2018, according to his LinkedIn profile.
AB InBev said Mr. Tennenbaum played a key role in the deal to take over SABMiller, which closed in 2016, leading the funding and managing the company's debt profile.
He will be tasked with ensuring AB InBev continues to invest in organic growth while also bringing down its huge debt pile, the company said in its release. AB InBev had $104.5 billion in debt at the end of September, according to S&P Capital IQ.
As part of the executive changes, David Almeida will become chief strategy and technology officer. Nelson Jamel, whom analysts believed was also a candidate for the CFO role, has been appointed chief people officer.
Jefferies analysts predicted AB InBev would look to split the CFO and technology chief roles if Mr. Dutra were to step down.
"We wonder whether some front-office roles could migrate to other functions across sales/commercial, with the more traditional supply chain/operations roles staying within the CFO," Jefferies analysts wrote last month.
Write to Nina Trentmann at Nina.Trentmann@wsj.com