Budweiser Brewing Company APAC has revived its stock sale with a lower valuation after disposing of its Australian brewery assets, handing Hong Kong’s stock exchange the second-largest global initial public offering (IPO) of 2019 at a time when the city is going through its worst political crisis. Budweiser, the Asia-Pacific unit of the world’s biggest beer brewer, has priced its shares at HK$27 each, at the bottom of a price range of between HK$27 and HK$30 in its US$5 billion stock offer, its parent Anheuser-Busch InBev said in a statement. The offering was increased to 1.45 billion shares because of demand, with an overallotment option to issue another 217.7 million shares, the company said. If the overallotment is fully exercised, the listing would raise US$5.75 billion in gross proceeds. Anheuser-Busch InBev would retain 87.2 per cent of the Budweiser business following the IPO. The offer by the brewer of Corona, Stella Artois and its namesake beer was halved from the US$9.8 billion sale that was shelved in July, after bankers failed to get Budweiser the valuation it wanted amid weakening sentiment from the US-China trade war, and the escalating political crisis in Hong Kong. That earlier listing attempt sought to price shares at between HK$40 and HK$47 each. Still, Budweiser’s discounted offer would make it the world’s second-largest sale of 2019, after Uber Technologies’ US$8.1 billion IPO in May, according to Refinitiv’s data, handing Hong Kong a much-needed boost to catch up with New York and Nasdaq in their annual race for the crown as the global fundraising capital. The listing would give Budweiser an enterprise value of US$45 billion, equating to a price-to-equity ratio of 33 times based on 2020 consensus estimates. Hong Kong had secured the top spot in six of the past 10 years. The Asian exchange, in third place globally in the first six months, saw three IPOs valued at a combined US$11.05 billion deferred in July as the city’s public order deteriorated into daily street protests amid popular opposition to a controversial extradition bill. After Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor withdrew the bill two weeks ago, sentiment has improved, helping the city’s benchmark stock index claw its way out of a 6 per cent decline. As the market bottomed out and monetary authorities cut the cost of money, some companies are dusting off their shelved plans to raise funds . In the first three weeks of September, 16 companies have applied to raise funds on the local bourse. Besides Budweiser, the logistics real estate developer ESR Cayman has revived its Hong Kong listing, while Home Credit, a Czech consumer finance lender that counts China as its biggest market, has been meeting with investors ahead of its planned US$1 billion IPO. Budweiser’s slimmed-down offering follows a sale in July of its Australian business to Japan’s Asahi Group Holdings for A$16 billion (US$11 billion). The Asahi transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of next year. Excluding the Australian operations, Budweiser earned US$6.7 billion in revenue, with US$959 million in 2018 net profit. The company employs more than 29,000 people. Budweiser was hoping to entice investors around the growth potential of its remaining Asian operations, which counts its principal markets as China, India, South Korea and Vietnam. The company is the third-largest brewer by volume in China, with a smaller production than China Resources Snow Beer Holdings and Tsingtao Brewery, both of which are listed in Hong Kong. Shares of China Resources rose 0.24 per cent to HK$41.25 in Hong Kong on Tuesday, while Tsingtao’s shares were down 1.54 per cent to HK$47.75. Budweiser’s stock will begin trading on September 30. Retail investors’ reception to the revived Budweiser listing had been “a bit lukewarm” heading up to the pricing, said Louis Tse Ming-kwong, managing director of VC Asset Management. “The market sentiment right now, it’s very cautious regarding any IPO at the moment.” One question for investors – and companies looking at Hong Kong listings – will be whether further escalation in the US-China trade war or continued unrest in the city will again weigh on sentiment and close the window for new offerings later this year. A big test could be if Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding – owner of the South China Morning Post – moves forward with its secondary listing in Hong Kong. The company, still the worldwide record holder with its US$25 billion New York IPO in 2014 for the biggest fundraising in history, had filed a confidential filing in Hong Kong for a secondary listing. Proceeds from the Budweiser offering will be used to pay down debt at its parent, Anheuser-Busch InBev. After acquiring SABMiller three years ago, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s debt grew to more than US$100 billion. Budweiser believes the listing will give it the ability to more easily pursue acquisitions as the brewing industry consolidates in Asia. “We still have a lot of growth opportunity in consolidating and working together with other brewers, regional brewers in Asia, to build on this platform,” Jan Craps, the Budweiser chief executive, said at a press conference last week. JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley are acting as joint sponsors on the offering.