Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI BB), the world's largest beer producer, plans to raise US$9.8 billion through a listing of its Asian business. The issue will outstrip Uber as the largest IPO in 2019. But investors are likely to find the elevated valuation of this major beer IPO hard to swallow.
We believe investors should either subscribe to the bottom end of the range or avoid the issue.
The Asian business is named Budweiser Brewery Company APAC (1876 HK) and is expected to list in Hong Kong on 19 July. Pricing would be on 11 July.
|IPO Size (US$)|
|No of shares sold|
|Share price (HK$)||40-47|
|Books open||2 July 2019|
|Pricing||11 July 2019|
|Trading||19 July 2019|
The Budweiser APAC IPO has two purposes for the Belgium-headquartered beer giant. First, it will help reduce ABI BB's US$100bn of net debt. Second, it should help ABI BB acquire Asian brewers. Potential targets include dominant and branded players such as Thai Beverage (Buy) and San Miguel. (Not Rated).
The Asian subsidiary sells over 50 of the group's brands including Budweiser and Stella Artois, in Asia-Pacific markets such as China, Australia, South Korea and Vietnam. It is the largest brewery in Asia by sales.
The IPO priced at a sharp premium to its peers in the Asia-Pacific region, but we think this premium is unjustified. At the top of the range, it is trading at a 20% premium to the median FY19 EV/EBITDA multiple for APAC brewers. At 45.6x FY19 PE, it is almost double the media PE multiple for the peers.
|Ticker||Name||P/E FY2||EV/EBITDA FY2||P/Sales TTM||P/FCF TTM||P/Book||P/Tang Book||EV/EBITDA TTM||Market Cap||Enterprise Value|
1876 HK Equity
291 HK Equity
China Resources Beer
2502 JP Equity
THBEV SP Equity
SMC PM Equity
291 HK Equity
168 HK Equity
CAB MK Equity
2502 JT Equity
2503 JT Equity
UBBL IN Equity
ABI BB Equity
1. China is the most dynamic market for Budweiser AsiaPac, with beer revenue having doubled in the past decade. The Chinese beer companies China Resources Beer and Tsingtao are trading at over 24x EV/EBITDA, which is a premium to the peer group.
However, beer is under threat in China. Per capital consumption has fallen since 2015, as discerning consumers prefer wine and baijiu, a local spirit. Craft beer, which has boomed in the West, has also become big in China. Craft beer is viewed as more flavoursome than the traditional variety.
2. In any case, Budweiser AsiaPac is a peripheral player in China. Budweiser is the third largest beer brand in China in terms of revenue, while Harbin, another brand owned by Budweiser AsiaPac, languishes in fifth place. Heineken has secured an exclusive distribution deal with the incumbent market leader China Resources Beer, which presents a serious hurdle to Budweiser AsiaPac.
3. There is limited scope for cash-based acquisitions in Asia, as the parent has US$100 billion in net debt. Potential target companies such as Thai Beverage and San Miguel would be averse to stock-based acquisition bids, in our view, because of Budweiser AsiaPac's poor market position.
4. At least a fifth of Budweiser AsiaPac's revenue is derived from the mature markets of Australia and South Korea. Both these markets are ex-growth and do not command the premium valuations of an emerging market.
In our view, investors should either avoid this issue or bid for the bottom of the range. If not, we think they could be risking a nasty hangover.