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AB InBev set to revive Budweiser Asia IPO with $5 billion float: sources

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AB InBev set to revive Budweiser Asia IPO with $5 billion float: sources

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Anheuser-Busch InBev ( ABI.BR ) is planning to raise about $5 billion from a revived float of its Asian operations after the world’s largest beer maker shelved a Hong Kong IPO in July, people with knowledge of the matter said.

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FILE PHOTO: Portfolio beer brands of Budweiser Brewing Company APAC Ltd are displayed during a news conference on the company’s IPO in Hong Kong, China July 4, 2019. REUTERS/Andrew Geoffrey Jackson AB InBev, which had aimed to raise as much as $9.8 billion through an IPO of Budweiser Brewing Company APAC Ltd ( 1876.HK ) to help with its heavy debt burden of over $100 billion, aims to re-launch the float as soon as next week, the sources said.

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It is tentatively looking to price the deal on September 23 and list the unit on September 30, said two sources who declined to be identified as the information was private.

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The listing would be a boost for the Hong Kong Stock Exchange after Reuters reported last month that China’s biggest e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd ( BABA.N ) had delayed a Hong Kong listing worth up to $15 billion amid growing political unrest there.

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The market conditions in recent days have improved and provided a good window, in which we should seize the opportunity to go ahead,” said one of the sources

Last Wednesday, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam formally withdrew an extradition bill, part of measures she hoped would help the city move forward from months of unrest

The benchmark Hang Seng Index .HIS has surged more than 6% since then

The development also comes after Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd ( 0388.HK ) announced a $39 billion takeover approach to the London Stock Exchange Plc ( LSE.L ) on Wednesday that received a cool response from investors concerned about regulatory and financial hurdles

AB InBev said in a statement on Thursday that it was continuing to explore an IPO in Hong Kong of Budweiser APAC, two months after shelving the planned listing of up to $9.8 billion in what would have been the largest IPO of 2019

Budweiser APAC has resumed its application for the listing of a minority stake of its shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, excluding its Australian operations, which the parent agreed to sell to Japan’s Asahi Group ( 2502.T ) for $11 billion shortly after the IPO was shelved in July

Without Australia, a large but mature market, AB InBev’s Asia-Pacific operations would be more focused on faster growth markets such as China, India and Vietnam, which in a way could make the IPO more attractive, sources said

The brewer, which had billed the IPO as a means to drive regional consolidation, failed to secure enough solid orders from top-class U.S. “long only” fund managers as investors were unwilling to accept its $54 billion-$64 billion valuation for Budweiser APAC in July

Another source, however, said Budweiser APAC stripped on the profitable Australia business would be worth less than $54 billion, the bottom of the previous range

In the latest prospectus filed with the stock exchange, the company booked a first-quarter normalized EBITDA of $558 million, up 23% from a year earlier

The growth rate including the Australian unit over the same period was 13.4%, filings showed

Budweiser APAC declined to comment on the IPO details. AB InBev did not respond to a request for comment

JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley are the sponsors of the float

Reporting by Julie Zhu; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; editing by Jason Neely