Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) shares edged higher Tuesday amid reports that the world's biggest brewing company and Budweiser beer-maker is planning a Hong Kong listing of its Asian business that could raise around $10 billion.
Multiple media outlets have indicated Anheuser-Bush will sell around 1.6 million shares of Budweiser Brewing APAC, at between HK$40 and HK$47 each, a level that would value its Asia region business at as much as $64 billion. The sale itself would raise between $8.3 billion and $9.8 billion, the reports suggested, and would outpace the $8.1 billion raised by Uber Technologies (UBER) earlier this year as the world's biggest IPO of 2019.
Anheuser-Busch raised the idea of listing its minority stake in Budweiser Brewing APAC earlier this year, telling investors on a conference call following its first quarter earnings that the move would help lower the group's debt load.
"Proceeding with the listing will depend on a number of factors, including but not limited to valuation and prevailing market conditions," CEO Carlos Brito said on February 28. "The merits of these initiatives are based upon the creation of an APAC champion in the consumer goods space. Furthermore, our superior portfolio brands and leadership position in the beer industry provide them attractive platform for potential M&A in the region."
Anheuser-Busch's U.S.-listed shares were marked 1.44% higher in pre-market trading Tuesday to indicate an opening bell price of $89.70 each, a move that would extend the stock's year-to-date gain to around 36.3%.
Anheuser-Busch InBev said earlier this year that it sees revenue growth ahead of inflation in 2019 as it attempts to drive customers to higher-priced, premium beers while at the same time cutting costs and reducing its $102.5 billion debt load. Ab InBev said it wants to see the ratio of net debt to operating earnings fall below 4 by next year. It was pegged at 4.6 at the end of 2018.