▪General: Altria Group, Inc. ("Altria") is a holding company incorporated in the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1985. At December 31, 2018, Altria's wholly-owned subsidiaries included Philip Morris USA Inc. ("PM USA"), which is engaged in the manufacture and sale of cigarettes in the United States; John Middleton Co. ("Middleton"), which is engaged in the manufacture and sale of machine-made large cigars and pipe tobacco and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of PM USA; Sherman Group Holdings, LLC and its subsidiaries ("Nat Sherman"), which are engaged in the manufacture and sale of super premium cigarettes and the sale of premium cigars; and UST LLC ("UST"), which through its wholly-owned subsidiaries, including U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company LLC ("USSTC") and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Ltd. ("Ste. Michelle"), is engaged in the manufacture and sale of smokeless tobacco products and wine. Altria's other operating companies included Philip Morris Capital Corporation ("PMCC"), which maintains a portfolio of finance assets, substantially all of which are leveraged leases, and Nu Mark LLC ("Nu Mark"), both of which are wholly-owned subsidiaries. In December 2018, Altria announced the decision to refocus its innovative product efforts, which included Nu Mark's discontinuation of production and distribution of all e-vapor products. Prior to that time, Nu Mark was engaged in the manufacture and sale of innovative tobacco products. Other Altria wholly-owned subsidiaries included Altria Group Distribution Company, which provides sales and distribution services to certain Altria operating subsidiaries, and Altria Client Services LLC ("ALCS"), which provides various support services in areas such as legal, regulatory, consumer engagement, finance, human resources and external affairs to Altria and its subsidiaries.
At September 30, 2016, Altria had an approximate 27% ownership of SABMiller plc ("SABMiller"), which Altria accounted for under the equity method of accounting. In October 2016, Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV ("Legacy AB InBev") completed its business combination with SABMiller, and Altria received cash and shares representing a 9.6% ownership in the combined company (the "AB InBev Transaction"). The newly formed Belgian company, which retained the name Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV ("AB InBev"), became the holding company for the combined businesses. Subsequently, Altria purchased approximately 12 million ordinary shares of AB InBev, increasing Altria's ownership to approximately 10.2% at
December 31, 2016. At December 31, 2018, Altria had an approximate 10.1% ownership of AB InBev, which Altria accounts for under the equity method of accounting using a one-quarter lag. As a result of the one-quarter lag and the timing of the completion of the AB InBev Transaction, no earnings from Altria's equity investment in AB InBev were recorded for the year ended December 31, 2016. For further discussion, see Note 7. Investment in AB InBev/SABMiller to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 ("Note 7").