Biggest Singapore IPO in nearly a decade might be brewing for ThaiBev's brewery business

Shares of ThaiBev have risen 43 per cent in Singapore trading this year through Thursday, giving the company a market value of about US$16 billion. PHOTO: THAIBEV/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi's Thai Beverage Public Co is planning a Singapore initial public offering (IPO) of some of its regional beer assets in a float that could raise US$2 billion to US$3 billion (S$2.7-$4.1 billion) next year, sources familiar with the matter said on Friday (Nov 29).

The Singapore-listed company has tapped banks for the listing of a unit which could house its beer assets in Vietnam and Thailand, a source said. Details of the fund raising have not been finalised, he said.

The company is working with Bank of America, Citigroup, DBS, HSBC and Morgan Stanley, according to two sources, on a potential IPO that one person said could occur in the middle of next year.

ThaiBev's shares were put on a trading halt after the miday trading break on Friday pending an announcement after the stock rose 5.2 per cent on heavy volume.

A Singapore IPO of just over US$2 billion would make it the biggest in the city-state in about six years, while an issue of more than US$3 billion would rank as the largest since 2010, according to Refinitiv data.

ThaiBev did not immediately respond to a query from Reuters. Citigroup, HSBC and Morgan Stanley declined to comment on the banks' participation in the deal, while Bank of America and DBS did not immediately respond.

Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg earlier reported that ThaiBev is said to consider a Singapore IPO of its brewery business that could value its unit at as much as $10 billion.

At a valuation of US$10 billion, the unit will also rank among the region's biggest beer companies like China's Tsingtao Brewery Co, although still far smaller than Budweiser Brewing Co, the Asian unit of beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev. Budweiser Brewing raised US$5 billion in September in Hong Kong and was the world's fourth-biggest IPO of this year.

ThaiBev is best known for producing Chang, a lager whose green bottles are adorned with an image of two elephants. It also brews Archa beer and the German-inspired Federbrau brand. In 2017, ThaiBev's Vietnamese affiliate agreed to buy a controlling stake in Sabeco, the country's largest brewer, for about US$4.8 billion.

Shares of ThaiBev have risen 43 per cent in Singapore trading this year through Thursday, giving the company a market value of about US$16 billion. No final decisions have been made, and there's no certainty the deliberations will lead to a transaction, the people said. Representatives for ThaiBev declined to comment.

Apart from the brewery business, ThaiBev runs distilleries that produce liquor including SongSam rum, Meridian brandy and Drummer whisky. It owns about 28.5 per cent of Singapore's Fraser & Neave, which sells 100Plus soft drinks and Magnolia dairy products, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The group is controlled by Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, who is Thailand's richest person with a net worth of about US$19.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

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