ThaiBev Shelves $2 Billion Brewery Unit IPO, Citing Pandemic

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Thai Beverage Pcl said on Friday it would defer the potential spin-off and listing of its brewery unit, which was on track to be among the biggest initial public offerings in Singapore in a decade, citing the uncertainty of market conditions and the worsening Covid-19 pandemic.

The maker of Chang beer -- owned by Thai tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi -- had been expected to raise around $2 billion, according to people familiar with the transaction. Instead, the company will review the proposed spin-off listing “at the appropriate time” while evaluating and exploring opportunities to maximize shareholder value, it said in a statement to the exchange on Friday night.

The IPO coincided with Thailand’s worst coronavirus outbreak yet, as the Southeast Asian country banned the sale of alcoholic beverages in restaurants and closed schools for two weeks on Friday. A new wave of infections has swept through Thailand, starting earlier this month and threatening the country’s planned reopening of borders to tourists.

“In view of the current uncertain market conditions and volatile outlook, aggravated by the worsening COVID-19 pandemic in Thailand and other countries, which are not conducive for the Proposed Spin-off Listing, ThaiBev wishes to announce its decision to defer the Proposed Spin-off Listing,” according to the statement.

The shelving of the potential IPO deals a big blow to Singapore’s bourse, which had been eagerly anticipating what would have been its biggest listing since Hutchison Port Holdings Trust raised $5.5 billion in 2011.

While rival financial center Hong Kong has seen billions of dollars raised so far this year through IPOs, Singapore has had just two listings, raising a combined $234.9 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

ThaiBev had already put its plan to spin off the brewery unit on hold last year after the coronavirus pandemic hit its business, with bars and restaurants closing and alcohol sales banned, people familiar with the matter said previously.

But as the pandemic showed signs of improving, particularly in Asia, the brewer revived the plan and had started gauging investor interest earlier this month.

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