Anheuser-Busch InBev adds Citi, BAML to banks working on $5 billion Asian IPO: sources

Anheuser-Busch InBev adds Citi, BAML to banks working on $5 billion Asian IPO: sources

HONG KONG (Reuters) – The world’s biggest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, has added Citigroup and Bank of America Merrill Lynch to the team of banks working on the sale of its Asia-Pacific business, three people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Anheuser-Busch InBev is pictured outside the brewer’s headquarters in Leuven, Belgium February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

The two join Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan, both of which are the sponsors, or leads, for the planned Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO) which could raise up to $5 billion for the heavily indebted brewer, the people said, declining to be identified as they were not authorized to speak to the media.

With main markets China and Australia, the region last year made up 18 percent of group volume and 14 percent of underlying operating profit, which in turn rose 13 percent to $3.1 billion. It was not clear how much of the business was up for sale.

AB InBev and BAML did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Citi declined to comment.

The Leuven, Belgium-based maker of Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois brands aims to spin-off its Asia-Pacific business to reduce leverage, the people said.

AB InBev’s net debt stood at $102.5 billion at the end of December, a figure inflated by its late 2016 purchase of nearest rival SABMiller for around $100 billion. AB InBev wants to bring its net debt/EBITDA ratio to around two times from a multiple of 4.6 at the end of last year. With that goal, it has halved its proposed dividend and said payouts will only grow slowly.

While AB InBev’s shares have risen 19 percent since reporting forecast-beating earnings in February, the brewer is battling to reverse a longer share price decline. Over the past two years, its shares have fallen 24 percent, in contrast to rivals Heineken and Carlsberg, which have gained 15 and 28 percent respectively.

The IPO would not be the first time AB InBev has sold Asia-Pacific assets to reduce debt. After InBev bought Anheuser-Busch in 2008, AB InBev sold South Korean unit Oriental Brewery to private equity firm KKR – only to buy it back in 2014.

The IPO is slated for the second half of the year and the brewer expects to file with the Hong Kong stock exchange in the first half, the people said. One of the people said the filing would happen either later this month or early May.

At $5 billion, the IPO could be the largest in Hong Kong this year, where the flood of companies looking to go public has slowed to a trickle.

Companies have raised $2.9 billion through Hong Kong listings so far this year, lagging the $6.4 billion raised on New York’s Nasdaq, showed Refinitiv data as of Friday.

Hong Kong topped all other exchanges globally last year with stock market listings raising $36.3 billion. This year, however, is widely expected to be slower due to thinning numbers of Chinese companies looking to go public, particularly in tech.

Reporting by Julie Zhu and Julia Fioretti; Additional reporting by Kane Wu in HONG KONG and Philip Blenkinsop in BRUSSELS; Editing by Jennifer Hughes and Christopher Cushing

Source link

Skittish investors pull more than $20 billion from stocks, rush into bonds: BAML

Skittish investors pull more than $20 billion from stocks, rush into bonds: BAML

LONDON (Reuters) – Global equity funds saw massive outflows this week, a sharp reversal from last week’s inflows as pessimism over economic growth gripped investors once again, driving them instead to search for yield in credit and buy safer assets like bonds.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Some $20.7 billion was pulled from equity funds in the week to March 20, while $12.1 billion was ploughed into bond funds, the biggest inflows since January 2018, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) strategists said on Friday citing data from EPFR.

Despite big gains for stocks globally this year, positioning is decidedly negative with $66.8 billion outflows from equity funds year-to-date.

This week’s heavy outflows showed investors remain skittish, having re-entered equities with $14 billion inflows last week.

Investors are hunting for yield, the strategists said, noting the ninth straight week of inflows to investment-grade bond funds – $6.6 billion this week – while high-yield bond funds drew in $3.2 billion and $1.2 billion went into EM debt.

The market is struggling to digest a rapid about-turn from the U.S. Federal Reserve on interest rates as economic growth disappoints globally and fears of a deflationary environment return.

“Extraordinary abrupt end to central bank hiking cycle & Fed paranoia of credit event are uber-bullish credit & uber-bearish volatility,” the strategists wrote.

“Inflows to ‘deflation assets’… continue to trounce inflows to ‘inflation winners’,” they added.

Overall the bank’s “Bull & Bear” indicator of investor positioning and sentiment held at a neutral level of 4.7 out of 10, signalling investors’ uncertainty over where the market might go next.

By region, the U.S. saw the biggest outflows with $13.2 billion, while $4 billion was pulled from European equities.

“Short European equities” was named by investors as the “most crowded” trade in a BAML survey on Tuesday, prompting some contrarian buying of European stocks, but not enough to move the needle in terms of flows.

Japanese equities also suffered outflows of $700 million, the sixth straight week of outflows. Emerging market equities have had outflows four of the past five weeks, and lost $400 million this week.

Investors turned on technology stocks, pulling $700 million from the sector. Defensive real estate stocks were the most favoured, attracting $400 million.

Cumulative flows into tech stocks, long-standing investor darlings, have stalled, BAML strategists noted, as doubts over their status as market leaders grew and sluggish economic growth weighed on performance.

Reporting by Helen Reid; editing by Josephine Mason

Source link

Equity funds see biggest weekly inflows in a year: BAML

BlueMountain names slate for PG&E board

LONDON (Reuters) – Investors plowed $14.2 billion into global equity funds this week, the largest amount in a year as investors jumped on to 2019’s stock market rally, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said on Friday, citing flow data provider EPFR.

An index of global stocks is up more than 16 percent since the end of 2018 as falling market volatility and a renewed dovishness from global central banks, led by the U.S. Federal Reserve has boosted risk appetite across the board.

BAML said most of the inflows went into exchange traded funds while mutual funds saw net outflows.

U.S. equity funds were the biggest beneficiaries with net inflows of $25.5 billion while emerging markets saw net outflows.

European funds also saw $4.6 billion of outflows after the European Central Bank slashed its growth forecasts and signaled a cautious economic outlook at its latest policy meeting.

The appetite for risk spilled over into bond markets as well with investment grade debt notching up the eighth consecutive week of inflows.

Reporting by Saikat Chatterjee; Editing by Tommy Wilkes

Source link

Worst start to year for equity flows since 2008: BAML

Worst start to year for equity flows since 2008: BAML

LONDON (Reuters) – A $10 billion wipeout over the last week has compounded the worst start to a year for equity flows since 2008, Bank of America Merrill Lynch strategists said on Friday.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Citing data from flow-tracker EPFR, BAML’s analysts calculated that just over $60 billion has now been yanked out of equities this year. Almost $80 billion has been pulled from developed markets, while $18.5 billion has gone into emerging markets.

They added that last week also saw the fourth-biggest inflow on record into ‘investment grade’ bonds at $9.5 billion and that “Europe = Japan” – a reference to long-term aneamic growth and low interest rates – was now the most consensus trade in the world by their calculations.

“Europe = Japan is correct and consensus,” they said, though they also reckon European assets will outperform in the second quarter now that the European Central Bank has shifted back towards stimulus and there are signs of renewed growth emerging from China.

For many, the monster outflows from stocks will appear at odds with what has been a red-hot start to the year for equity markets.

Despite a wobble this week, MSCI’s main world share index has seen one of its best ever starts to a year thanks to surges of 20 percent or more for the likes of Wall Street’s S&P 500 and China’s main indexes.

The apparent disconnect could be explained by the fact that EPFR data captures only a portion of investment funds but also that firms themselves have been buying up their own shares this year after they became much cheaper last year.

Recent data from Biryinyi associates showed that U.S. companies had already announced plans to buy back nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars of their own stock by the end of February, which was up 7 percent on the same time a year ago.

BAML’s analysts noted separately meanwhile that this weekend marks 10 years since the post-financial crisis global equity bull run started.

During that time the value, or market capitalization, of U.S. stocks has surged by $21.3 trillion which is three times the $6.5 trillion overall rise in annual economic output of the U.S. economy.

The top three performers in the Dow Jones index have been plane maker Boeing, iPhone giant Apple and Unitedhealth Group, while the worst performers have been Walgreen, oil firm Exxon, and IT firm IBM.

Annualized total return since the March 2009 low have been 17.5 percent for the S&P 500, versus 13.8 percent by Japan’s Nikkei 225 and 9.3 percent for Europe’s STOXX 600.

“Ten years after Global Financial Crisis, Eurozone trapped in deflationary “Japanification” of growth & interest rates; EU rates unlikely to rise, EU equities in ‘value trap’” BAML’s analysts said.

Reporting by Marc Jones; editing by Helen Reid

Source link