When presenting the quarterly figures this morning, AB InBev confirmed it was “actively exploring” the listing of a minority stake in its Asia operations in Hong Kong. The division could be valued at up to USD 70 billion (EUR 62.5 billion) and would help to pay down AB InBev’s USD 102.5 billion debt. In addition, the shares of the newly listed company may serve as an attractive currency to open up dealmaking options in the region.
“The merits of this initiative are based on the creation of an Asia-Pacific champion in the consumer goods space,” Felipe Dutra, AB InBev’s chief financial officer said on Tuesday, adding that the division’s “superior portfolio of brands and leadership position in the beer industry provide an attractive platform for potential M&A”.
Speculations about a sale of AB InBev’s Asian business came up in January (inside.beer, 14.1.2019) and had been given new impetus with a report by the Wall Street Journal in February saying that the world’s largest brewer has appointed JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley to work on a potential initial public offering (inside.beer, 5.2.2019).
AB InBev also presented its figures for the first quarter today and, despite significant growth, failed to meet analysts' expectations. Revenue in the first quarter rose by almost six percent year-on-year to USD 12.6 billion. Normalized operating profit (EBITDA) rose by 8.2 percent to nearly USD 5 billion. For the current year, management continues to expect strong growth in revenue and operating profit.