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AB InBev seeks $9.8 billion for Asia unit in world's largest IPO this year

AB InBev seeks $9.8 billion for Asia unit in world's largest IPO this year
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Anheuser-Busch InBev is pictured outside the brewer's headquarters in Leuven, Belgium February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir -
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Francois Lenoir(Reuters)
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By Sumeet Chatterjee and Alun John

HONGKONG (Reuters) – Brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (AB InBev) <ABI.BR> is seeking to raise up to $9.8 billion (7.8 billion pounds) from a Hong Kong listing of its Asia-Pacific business, marking what would be the world’s largest initial public offering this year.

Budweiser Brewing Company APAC, which includes a portfolio of more than 50 beer brands in the region, is selling 1.6 billion primary shares at between HK$40-$47 ($5.13-$6.02) apiece, according to termsheets seen by Reuters.

The deal will raise between $8.3 billion and $9.8 billion for heavily-indebted AB InBev before any over-allocation option is included, giving Budweiser Asia a market capitalisation of up to $63.7 billion after the IPO.

Even at the low end of the price range, the IPO will be the biggest globally this year, outstripping the $8.1 billion raised in New York by Uber <UBER.N>, data from Refinitiv shows.

AB InBev has previously said an IPO of its Asia business could help create a brewing champion for the region, where wealthy consumers are increasingly trading up to higher-margin premium beers, such as Budweiser or Corona.

The IPO pricing values Budweiser Asia at 16-18 times its enterprise value (EV) to EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) ratio, one termsheet shows.

EV-EBITDA is a common valuation metric that seeks to help investors compare companies’ operations and strip out the different effects of financing costs.

Budweiser Asia’s ratio compares with an EV-EBITDA value of 11 for AB InBev itself, according to Refinitiv data, 15 for China-focused Tsingtao <0168.HK> and 10 for Japan’s Kirin <2503.T>, another Asia-centric brewing giant.

The deal will be a welcome boost to Hong Kong, which is lagging behind the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq in terms of IPOs this year, with $8.9 billion to its credit compared with $14.9 billion and $17.5 billion raised by its U.S. rivals.

The biggest listing in the Asian financial hub so far in 2019 has been that of Chinese securities firm Shenwan Hongyuan HK Ltd <0218.HK> which raised $1.2 billion in April.

The investor response to the offering will also act as a barometer for other large share sales in the near future, with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd <BABA.N> considering raising as much as $20 billion through a listing in Hong Kong.

Budweiser Asia’s deal is expected to price in New York on July 11 and the stock will debut in Hong Kong on July 19, the term sheet showed.

A spokeswoman for AB InBev declined to comment.

JPMorgan <JPM.N> and Morgan Stanley <MS.N> are the joint sponsors of the float.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch <BAC.N> and Deutsche Bank <DBKGn.DE> are the joint global coordinators for the offering.

(Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee, Alun John and Julie Zhu; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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