What's going on?
The biggest initial public offering (IPO) of the year – that of AB InBev’s Asian subsidiary Budweiser Brewing Company APAC – was delayed on Friday, perhaps indefinitely…
What does this mean?
During an IPO, the company going public sets a price range for the new shares it’s selling and then markets them to investors. Demand for Budweiser was high: investors wanted more stock than there was for sale. But investors sometimes ask for more stock than they want in order to lock down the amount they’d actually like. When Budweiser tried to distil a final share price on Friday, it found investor demand was much lower than it’d initially seemed. Budweiser couldn’t brew up enough buyers for its $10 billion of stock, so decided to go public at a later date instead
Why should I care?
For markets: Investors downed AB InBev’s shares.
Budweiser parent AB InBev’s shares fell 1% on Friday. AB InBev hoped that its subsidiary could use the fresh cash to reduce its debts – and to expand further, thanks to rising Asian demand for its beers. That would’ve helped AB InBev reduce its own debts, totaling some $100 billion after its 2016 purchase of rival SABMiller. Without a Budweiser IPO, however, that debt still looms large – likely making AB InBev a riskier investment.
The bigger picture: Investors aren’t buying what companies are selling.
More IPOs are being canceled or postponed than a year ago: 117 in the last six months, according to Dealogic. That may reflect investor concerns about stock market prices hitting record highs recently and being, therefore, perhaps more likely to fall precipitously in the future. Some investors might have thought Budweiser’s stock looked expensive: the company’s value compared to its profit was likely to be two thirds higher than the average global brewer. And six of the ten largest IPOs this year have been priced at the low end of their proposed ranges, so Budweiser’s fate may have been sealed…