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[BRUSSELS] The world's top brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev said on Thursday it successfully sold US$46 billion of bonds in what may end up being the biggest bond operation in history.
The bond sale is to help pay for the takeover of rival SABMiller, announced in November, the third largest acquisition in history at a value of US$121 billion.
Analysts said investors are flocking to bonds from top-shelf companies in an effort to find shelter from unstable markets hit hard by the economic slowdown in China.
"It's a high-quality consumer company, and there is a lot of interest there," bond specialist Donald Ellenberger at Federated Investors told Bloomberg News.
With the company likely to raise more debt in other currencies, the brewer may surpass the US$49 billion US telecom Verizon raised two years ago in the biggest company bond offering on record.
Reports said AB InBev initially hoped to raise US$25 billion but hiked that to US$46 billion with the heavy interest.
"There is a lot of demand," Rebecca Cummins, a US-based money manager at Thornburg Investment Management, told Bloomberg.
"Given that there is a large pipeline of M&A deals still to come, that this seems to be going well may be a positive sign," she added.
The merger will bring together InBev's top lagers like Beck's, Budweiser and Stella Artois, with SABMiller brands Foster's, Grolsch and Peroni.
Belgian-Brazilian behemoth InBev is eager to tap into booming developing markets in Africa and China, where SABMiller's joint venture produces Snow - the world's best selling beer by volume.