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AB InBev Reportedly Explores Asset Sales After Calling Off Asia IPO

Anheuser-Busch InBev SA is considering to sell business units in South Korea, Australia and Central America to cut its massive debt pile as it pursues a backup plan after calling off the listing of its Asian business, the Wall Street Journal reported citing people familiar with the matter.

The Korean and Australian businesses, which make popular beers such as Cass and Victoria Bitter, were major parts of the canceled Asian initial public offering. The brewer now hopes to raise at least $10 billion from asset sales, the report said.

Private-equity firm KKR & Co. approached AB InBev in May about buying some of the Asian assets. KKR previously bought the Korean business and sold it back to AB InBev in 2014 for $5.8 billion. Also in May, Japanese brewer Asahi Group Holdings Ltd. expressed interest in buying the Australia business, the report said.

AB InBev last week canceled the planned IPO of its Asian business, in which it aimed to raise nearly $10 billion, citing market conditions.

Ultimately, the company hopes to get its debt down to about $80 billion, one of the people said. That would be a level at which the company could continue to pursue acquisitions and make capital investments and wouldn't risk being downgraded below investment grade by credit-rating firms, the person said.

The company is also planning to cut again AB InBev's dividend, which was halved last fall, but some board members are reluctant to do this, the Journal reported.

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