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AB InBev sells Australian business after ditching huge Asian IPO

Posted at 3:16 AM, Jul 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-19 06:47:25-04

The world’s biggest brewer is selling its Australian business just days after calling off what would have been the biggest initial public offering of 2019.

Anheuser-Busch InBev will unload its Carlton & United Breweries unit to Japanese beer giant Asahi in a deal worth 16 billion Australian dollars (about $11.3 billion). It was announced on Friday, the day AB InBev was originally scheduled to list its Asia business on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in an IPO that could have raised as much as $9.8 billion.

The company pulled those plans last week, citing concerns about broader “market conditions.”

In a statement announcing the Australia deal, the company said that it had not completely ruled out an IPO of its remaining Asia business, saying that it “continues to believe” in a potential offering “provided that it can be completed at the right valuation.”

The owner of iconic beer brands like Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois is reportedly exploring plans to sell off more of its assets around the region, such as in South Korea. The company declined to comment on those plans on Friday.

The company is looking at ways to reduce its enormous debt load, which amounted to about $102.5 billion in 2018.

AB InBev’s deal with Asahi should help tackle that, with “substantially all of the proceeds” directed to pay down debt, it said.

Under the terms of the deal, which is expected to close by the first quarter of 2020, AB InBev will grant Asahi the rights to commercialize the portfolio of AB InBev’s global and international brands in Australia.