The company behind Bud Light said it won't take its Asia unit public, cancelling the largest IPO of 2019

Business Insider | Jul 14, 2019, 12.08AM IST

Anheuser-Busch InBev, which produces Budweiser and Bud Light, has called off what would've likely been the largest IPO of 2019 by deciding not to take its Asia unit public.

Shares of the beverage company closed down more than 3% Friday on the news.

The company was looking to raise as much as $9.8 billion dollars in a public listing of Budweiser Asia, according to Reuters. It would have been the largest IPO since Uber raised $8.1 billion in its May listing, had it began trading on July 19 as previously planned.

AB InBev said that the deal would allow it to expand in Asia. Withdrawing the IPO plan suggests that while the US IPO market is having a blockbuster year, other geographies are falling behind. Asia has been particularly hard hit by fears that global growth is slowing and trade tensions between the US and China.

The company said Friday that it would "closely monitor market conditions" for its next move.

Analysts that cover the company said that AB InBev had trouble adhering to Hong Kong's rigorous rules around public listings, the Wall Street Journal reported. The company didn't have a cornerstone investor such as a sovereign-wealth fund, large institutional investor, local tycoon, or state-owned enterprise to endorse the deal.

The asking price may have also been too high for investors. Once AB InBev set a price range, it could not deviate from that range per Hong Kong's rules. The company could have pushed ahead with the IPO if it set a lower price range or offered fewer shares, but the company resisted, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The IPO would've helped the company pay down its debt. Carlos Brito, the elusive CEO, said in May that the company would meet its debt reduction goals with or without the IPO in Asia. But without the IPO, it will certainly be more difficult and may mean the company has to wait on other deals in the works.

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