The world’s biggest brewer is planning the year’s biggest IPO

Posted at 5:58 AM, Jul 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-02 09:47:08-04

Anheuser-Busch InBev is hoping to raise as much as $9.8 billion when it lists its Asia business in Hong Kong in the biggest IPO of the year.

Budweiser Brewing Company APAC, the largest brewer in Asia by retail sales, plans to offer 1.63 billion shares for between 40 and 47 Hong Kong dollars ($5.13 to $6.02), according to a document setting out the terms of the IPO that was shared with CNN Business.

That would raise between $8.3 billion and $9.8 billion for the brewer of Bud Light, Beck’s and Stella Artois. The biggest IPO of the year so far, by Uber in May in New York, raised $8.1 billion.

The world’s biggest brewer could use the funds to reduce its massive debt load. But AB InBev CEO Carlos Brito suggested in late June that listing in Asia could also lead to acquisitions in the region.

“The number one reason to do the listing is to have a platform in the region that is seen as closer to those markets and connected to what the region will do, since that’s something that can be attractive to local groups,” he told the Financial Times.

AB InBev became the world’s largest brewer by borrowing money to fund a series of acquisitions. Its most recent mega purchase, of SABMiller, increased the company’s debt to $102.5 billion in 2018.

The IPO could also help the company in China, the world’s largest market for beer. AB InBev’s sales in the country grew 8.3% last year, with its super premium brands performing especially well.

Institutional investors could submit orders starting on Tuesday, according to the IPO document. The IPO will be opened to retail investors on July 8, and the stock will list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on July 19.

Budweiser APAC plans to sell 95% of the shares to international institutional investors. Only 5% will be set aside for retail investors, unless underwriters choose to release additional shares.

JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley are joint sponsors on the deal, while Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank are acting as joint global coordinators.

AB InBev declined to comment.