AB InBev wants to raise $5 billion in Hong Kong IPO. That’s half of its original goal

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

Anheuser-Busch InBev’s big Asia IPO has lost some of its fizz.

The world’s biggest brewer said Tuesday that it hopes to raise as much as $4.8 billion when it lists its Asia business in Hong Kong. That’s roughly half of the $9.8 billion AB InBev was hoping to raise when it first proposed a public offering. It scrapped those plans in July, citing market conditions. An IPO of that size would have been the largest of the year.

Budweiser Brewing Company APAC, the largest brewer in Asia by retail sales, plans to offer 1.26 billion shares for between 27 and 30 Hong Kong dollars ($3.45 to $3.83).

That would raise between 34 billion to 37.9 billion Hong Kong dollars ($4.4 billion to $4.8 billion) for the brewer of Bud Light, Beck’s and Stella Artois.

The listing excludes Budweiser APAC’s Australia operations, which the parent company said in July it would unload for $11.3 billion.

“We decided to sell our Australian business … which we believe was right thing to do from a shareholder value creation perspective,” Guilherme Castellan, chief financial officer of Budweiser APAC, told reporters on Tuesday.

The offloading of the Australian business, which was a mature market that was seeing slower growth, meant the company could sell investors on faster growing markets in the Asia Pacific region, according to Castellan.

“China of course is a fast growth market for us [and it] gets more weight in this transaction,” he said. AB InBev’s sales in the country grew 8.3% last year, with brands like Budweiser and Corona performing especially well.

AB InBev said Tuesday that the funds raised by the offering will be used “immediately to repay loans” that are due to its subsidiaries.

The company has a massive debt load, and it’s already made some moves to steady its balance sheet, including a decision to cut its dividend in half last year.

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.

Budweiser APAC will list in Hong Kong on September 30. Even at the bottom range of the proposed listing, it will be the second largest IPO of the year after Uber’s $8.1 billion public debut in May, according to Dealogic.

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