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Shares of AB InBev's Asia unit up in Hong Kong debut

Hong Kong

SHARES in AB InBev's Asia-Pacific unit, which last week raised about US$5 billion after relaunching its initial public offering (IPO), gained as much as 4 per cent on their market debut in Hong Kong on Monday.

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (AB InBev), the world's largest brewer, relaunched the unit's IPO this month after cancelling a plan for a bigger float in July citing "several factors, including the prevailing market conditions".

The Asia unit, Budweiser Brewing Company APAC Ltd, raised about US$5 billion in the world's second-biggest IPO this year, after pricing the Hong Kong float at the bottom of a marketed range.

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Budweiser APAC shares rose to as much as HK$28.10 (S$4.96) at market open on Monday, compared to its IPO price of HK$27 per share. The stock was trading at HK$28, up 3.79 per cent, at 10.01am, while the market index was down 0.2 per cent.

Proceeds from the IPO of Budweiser APAC, whose portfolio of more than 50 beer brands includes Stella Artois and Corona, will help AB InBev reduce debt of over US$100 billion accumulated following the purchase of rival SABMiller in late 2016.

The brewer also has another goal - to create an Asian champion to spur consolidation. Analysts see the brewing assets of San Miguel of the Philippines or of Thai Beverage as possible partners or targets.

JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley are the joint sponsors of the Budweiser IPO. They are also among the global coordinators for the offering with Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Chinese investment bank CICC. REUTERS