Capped and labelled bottles of Carling Black Label beer move along a conveyor belt on the production line at the SABMiller Plc Alrode brewery and bottling plant, a unit of Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg)

Budweiser Brewer Picks JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley for Asia IPO

(Bloomberg) -- Anheuser-Busch InBev NV has selected JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley for a possible initial public offering of its Asian operations in what could be one the region’s biggest listings this year, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The world’s largest brewer is considering Hong Kong as a listing venue but hasn’t made a final decision, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The Belgium-based company is considering choosing more arrangers to join the deal later, one of the people said.

“In line with our culture, we are always looking at opportunities to optimize our business and drive long-term growth, of course subject to our strict financial discipline,” a representative for AB InBev said in a statement. “We are committed to our businesses in the Asia Pacific region and excited about the potential in this geography.”

A IPO of AB InBev’s Asia business could raise more than $5 billion, people familiar with the matter said last month. Only three IPOs on Asia exchanges topped that amount last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That included China Tower Corp.’s $7.5 billion listing and Xiaomi Corp.’s $5.4 billion offering, both in Hong Kong. SoftBank Group Corp.’s $21 billion listing in December of its Japanese mobile unit in Tokyo was the second-largest of all time.

A representative for JPMorgan declined to comment. A representative for Morgan Stanley said the bank couldn’t immediately comment.

A listing could give AB InBev’s Asian business a value ranging from $40 billion to $70 billion based on early estimates, though the eventual figure would depend on market demand and growth prospects, people familiar with the matter have previously said.

The maker of Budweiser beer has been looking to reduce borrowings after its purchase of SABMiller Plc for more than $100 billion in 2016. AB InBev shares fell 38 percent last year, making it one of the worst performers on the Euro Stoxx 50 index of European blue chips. Its shares have risen almost 16 percent this year, driven largely by news of its possible Asia listing.

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