Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) shares extended declines Monday after the world's biggest brewing company shelved plans to list its Asia business on the Hong Kong market in what would have topped Uber Technologies (UBER) for the biggest IPO of the year.
Anheuser-Busch had planned to 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 have raised between $8.3 billion and $9.8 billion and outpaced the $8.1 billion raised by Uber earlier this year as the world's biggest IPO of 2019.
Anheuser-Busch had planned to sell around 1.6 million shares of Budweiser Brewing APAC that would have raised between $8.3 billion and $9.8 billion and valued ts Asia region business at as much as $64 billion. However, multiple media reports suggested that investors balked at the IPO price, which was set at between HK$40 and HK$47 each, even as bookrunners JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley guided potential buyers towards the lower end of the range.
"The company is not proceeding with this transaction due to several factors, including the prevailing market conditions," AB InBev said in a statement. "The company will closely monitor market conditions, as it continuously evaluates its options to enhance shareholder value, optimize the business and drive long-term growth, subject to strict financial discipline."
AB InBev shares were marked 2.1% lower in Brussels Monday to change hands at €77.48 each, after the group's American-listed shares slumped 3% each on Friday to close at $86.94, a move that trimmed the stock's year-to-date gain to around 32%.
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 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.