The world’s biggest brewer may resurrect its massive Hong Kong IPO
Anheuser-Busch InBev has resumed its application to list its Asia business in Hong Kong, two months after shelving what would have been the biggest IPO of the year.
The world’s biggest brewer said in a statement Thursday that there is no assurance that the transaction will go through “and the decision to proceed will depend on a number of factors and prevailing market conditions.”
Asian stock markets have been turbulent this year, largely because of the trade war between the United States and China. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index is down 5.1% since the beginning of July, hit by a political crisis that has seen months of mass demonstrations.
AB InBev was hoping to raise as much as $9.8 billion by listing Budweiser Brewing Company APAC, the largest brewer in Asia by retail sales, before pulling the planned July offering. The IPO would have topped Uber, which raised $8.1 billion in New York in May.
AB InBev could use the funds to reduce its massive debt load. The company has already made moves to steady its balance sheet, cutting its dividend in half last last year and unloading its Australian business for $11.3 billion in July.
AB InBev became the world’s top brewer by borrowing money to fund a series of acquisitions. The company’s most recent mega purchase, of SABMiller, increased its debt to $102.5 billion in 2018.
An Asia 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 brands like Budweiser and Corona performing especially well.
The listing would be a win for the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Reports emerged last month that internet giant Alibaba would delay plans to raise $15 billion through a secondary listing in Hong Kong amid the ongoing political unrest. Alibaba declined to comment at the time.