The world's second largest IPO this year is coming from a beer company

US grants approval for merger between InBev and SABMiller
Posted at 6:02 AM, Sep 24, 2019

(CNN) -- Anheuser-Busch InBev is set to pull off the world's second largest IPO of 2019.

The brewer of Budweiser, Beck's and Stella Artois, announced Tuesday that it priced the initial public offering for its Asia business at 27 Hong Kong dollars ($3.44) a share. In the process, the world's largest brewer expects to raise about $5 billion, making it the second largest public offering this year after Uber's $8.1 billion IPO in May, according to Dealogic.

The amount was at the low end of its original proposed price range of between 27 and 30 Hong Kong dollars ($3.44 to $3.83) a share, but the company tapped into an option that allowed it to increase the offering, issuing about 189 million additional shares for a total of just over 1.45 billion shares.

AB InBev had originally planned to make its Hong Kong listing the biggest of the year, with the goal of raising $9.8 billion. But it scrapped that plan in July, citing market conditions, before resurrecting the IPO earlier this month.

Budweiser APAC's IPO is a big win for the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The bourse has been battered by a months-long political crisis, the ongoing US-China trade war and slowing consumption in China. The Hang Seng Index has fallen nearly 8% over the last three months.

The listing excludes Budweiser APAC's Australia operations, which the parent company said in July it would unload for $11.3 billion to Japanese rival Asahi.

Offloading the Australian business, which was a mature market that was seeing slower growth, meant the company was able to sell investors on faster growing markets in the Asia Pacific region, such as China. AB InBev's sales in the country grew 8.3% last year, with brands like Budweiser and Corona performing especially well.

AB InBev said Tuesday that the company "intends to apply all of the net proceeds from the offering to repay debt."

The brewer has a massive debt load, and it's already made some moves to steady its balance sheet, including a decision to cut its dividend in half last year.

AB InBev became the world's largest brewer by borrowing money to fund a series of acquisitions. Its most recent mega purchase, of SABMiller, increased the company's debt to $102.5 billion in 2018.

Budweiser APAC is expected to begin trading in Hong Kong on September 30.

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