CUB owner cancels ‘expensive’ Budweiser IPO

AB InBev, owners of Carlton and United Breweries, have cancelled a listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange which may have heralded acquisitive activity in Australia.

The drinks giant was due to list a minority share in its Asia Pacific business, Budweiser Brewing Company APAC Limited, on the HKEX this month, and was aiming to raise US$9.8 billion.

Analysts have suggested that the lack of demand for Budweiser stock and its relatively high price were off-putting to investors.

According to documents filed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) in May, AB InBev was set to use the listing as a platform from which to launch M&A activity in the region.

The Belgian drinks corporation has already acquired Australian craft brands including 4 Pines and Pirate Life, as well as international craft breweries and brewpubs like Chicago’s Goose Island.

It was also set to use the funds from the Initial Public Offering (IPO) to address its net debt to EBITDA ratio.

Debt levels at AB InBev rocketed to US $100 billion after acquiring rival brewer SABMiller in 2016, for which it took out a US $75 billion loan.

AB InBev justified the cancellation in a notice to Euronext, the Amsterdam-based stock exchange.

It said it made the decision after considering “several factors”, including “prevailing market conditions”.

It did not elaborate further, but said that it was looking to continue to grow the business.

“The company will closely monitor market conditions, as it continuously evaluates its options to enhance shareholder value, optimize [sic] the business and drive long-term growth, subject to strict financial discipline,” it said.

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