AB InBev Asian business resumes plans of Hong Kong listing

ASIA – World’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev has resumed plans of listing its Asia Pacific business in Hong Kong, two months after back tracking from the planned initial public offering (IPO).

AB InBeV now says that its Asia Pacific unit, Budweiser Brewing Company, has resumed its application for the listing of a minority stake of its shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, reports Reuters.

However, the brewer gave no assurance on whether the transaction will be completed noting that “the decision to proceed will depend on a number of factors and prevailing market conditions.”

In addition, the draft prospectus filed on Thursday didn’t detail the size of the offering or the timing of the IPO.

AB InBev had initially planned to sell up to US$9.8bn of shares in Budweiser APAC, which markets beer brands in China, Australia, South Korea and Vietnam, before it shelved the IPO in mid-July.

By then, the company said the main merit of a Hong Kong listing would be to create a champion in the Asia-Pacific, where sales are still growing and increasingly wealthy consumers are trading up to higher-margin premium beers.

The move was also part of the AB InBev’s efforts to reduce a US$102.5 billion debt pile accumulated following the late 2016 purchase of rival SABMiller for around US$100 billion.

Since calling off the deal, the Belgium-based brewer has been looking to sell some of its assets. In July, the company agreed to sell its Australian unit to Asahi Group Holdings Ltd. for US$11.3 billion.

After the brewer’s decision to sell its Australian business to Japan’s Asahi, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s chief executive, Carlos Brito, said the company had “no need” to sell additional assets and the deal should be considered a one off.

If the Asia listing goes through, it could further improve the company performance in Asian Market. Budweiser APAC’s operations in Australia and South Korea generated almost two-third of last year’s revenue of US$8.5bn.

The business’ biggest markets, China and Autsralia, made collectively accounted for 18% of the regions volume. China, however, was expected to be the most important driver of growth.

AB InBev also hopes that a separate listing for its Asia-Pacific business would give it a means of acquiring regional rivals.

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