July 8, 2019 / 6:55 AM / 11 days ago

Books already covered for Budweiser APAC's up to $9.8 billion IPO: sources

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Investors have already subscribed for more shares than brewing giant AB Inbev (ABI.BR) is offering in the float of its Asia-Pacific operations, according to sources involved with the world’s biggest initial public offering (IPO) so far this year.

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

Budweiser APAC, which launched its deal last week, is seeking to raise between $8.3 billion and $9.8 billion via the Hong Kong float, much of which will go toward paying down debt at its highly leveraged parent.

AB Inbev, the world’s largest brewer, has been working to reduce a debt pile of over $100 billion that was built up by its purchase of rival SABMiller in late 2016.

Two sources with knowledge of the Budweiser APAC deal said that it was already oversubscribed. The deal is due to price in New York on Thursday.

Both sources declined to be named because they were not authorized to talk publicly about the deal. One said the shares were already “very well” oversubscribed.

An external spokeswoman for AB Inbev did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company and its bankers kicked off a roadshow for the deal last week in Asia. On Monday they will meet with investors in London before heading to Boston and New York.

Budweiser Brewing Company APAC Ltd (Budweiser APAC), whose portfolio of more than 50 beer brands includes Stella Artois and Corona as well as its eponymous label, has positioned its spin-off as creating an Asia-Pacific champion.

Beer sales are growing in the region, with increasingly wealthy consumers turning to more premium beer brands.

Demand for the deal is being closely watched as a gauge of investor appetite for share sales after a shaky start to the year.

Even at the low end of its price range, Budweiser APAC’s IPO will be the biggest globally this year, outstripping the $8.1 billion raised in New York by Uber (UBER.N), according to data from Refinitiv.

Hong Kong is also readying for a listing of up to $20 billion by Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba (BABA.N) in the coming months.

Global share listings hit their lowest level in three years in the first half of the year, with a slowdown in Europe counteracting a stronger U.S. showing.

Reporting by Julie Zhu in Hong Kong; Writing by Jennifer Hughes; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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