The maker of Budweiser and Stella Artois beers has revived plans to list its Asia unit in Hong Kong, saying it wants to raise almost US$5 billion in what would be the world’s second-biggest initial public offering this year.

The decision by Belgium-listed Anheuser-Busch InBev to sell the stake will provide a much-needed boost to the Hong Kong stock exchange, which has been hit by months of sometimes violent protests in the city as well as the China-US trade war.

The world’s biggest brewer had previously hoped to raise almost $10 billion in an IPO earlier in the year, but the deal was pulled in July after it failed to garner enough support from institutional funds to meet the company’s expectations.

Soon after it sold its assets in Australia – including the Foster’s beer brand – to Japanese mega-brewer Asahi for $11.3 billion, helping pare back some of its more than $100 billion debts, much of it stemming from its blockbuster 2016 acquisition of SABMiller.

Its new offering has the backing of Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, with a commitment of $1 billion, the company said.

At a press conference on Tuesday, the firm said it wanted to raise $4.8 billion with the sale of part of Budweiser Brewing Company APAC Ltd to help it push deeper into areas where it does not have a presence, such as Southeast Asia.

It said it would offer about 10% of the firm in a price range of HK$27-HK$30 ($3.45-$3.80).

If it goes ahead, it would be the second-biggest IPO of 2019 after Uber raised $8.1 billion in May.

And Budweiser Brewing CEO Jan Craps threw his weight behind the beleaguered city, where more than three months of protests have hammered the economy and its once-strong reputation as a safe place to do business.

“Hong Kong has a bright future as a financial center. We are here for the long term,” he told a news conference.

The listing will be a boon for Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, which last week saw a surprise $32 billion bid for the London Stock Exchange Group rejected as being too small.

AFP