* BUD returns to NYSE after nearly year-long absence
* Analyst sees warm welcome from U.S. investors
* Pink Sheet ADRs closed on Tuesday at $46.25
By Martinne Geller
NEW YORK, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (ABI.BR) shares will start trading in New York on Wednesday, ten months after Belgium’s InBev acquired the iconic U.S. brewer and moved its primary listing to Brussels.
U.S.-listed shares, or American Depositary Receipts, of the world’s largest brewer will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the former Anheuser-Busch symbol “BUD” -- a nod to its Budweiser beer label.
Each ADR will represent one ordinary share of Anheuser-InBev common stock, which will continue to trade on Euronext Brussels under the symbol “ABI”.
ADRs already traded in the U.S. on the Pink Sheets closed on Tuesday at $46.25, and Morningstar analyst Ann Gilpin guessed that that’s roughly where the new shares will open.
Anheuser-Busch InBev was formed late last year when InBev, the Belgian maker of Stella Artois and Beck‘s, bought St. Louis-based Anheuser for $52 billion.
Since then, the company announced plans to open an office in New York and has begun reporting its quarterly financial results in U.S. dollars. Gilpin said these moves signal a greater interest in the U.S. equity market.
“It’s a mega-cap name. I think a lot of people will be excited to have it listed in the U.S.,” Gilpin said.
InBev took on $45 billion of debt to fund the merger, which closed in November, and has set a target to divest $7 billion of assets to help pay it down.
By August 13, when the company posted second-quarter results, it was about halfway to that target. Two weeks later it announced another deal, to sell its Scottish and Irish assets for 180 million pounds.
Gilpin said that any capital the company raises will likely go toward paying down debt. She also expects a warm reaction from U.S. investors, especially institutional funds that might not want to deal with the foreign tax and currency issues that often come with owning an international stock.
Anheuser-Busch InBev shares traded in Europe have more than tripled in value since late November to above 31 euros. (Reporting by Martinne Geller, editing by Leslie Gevirtz)