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Anheuser-Busch InBev NV will kick off a second attempt to spin off its Asian business in Hong Kong with the launch on Wednesday of an IPO worth up to $6.6 billion that could be the world's second largest this year.

The brewing giant, which in July tried to raise up to $9.8 billion through an initial public offering (IPO) of Budweiser Brewing Company APAC Ltd, said on Tuesday it would offer 1.3 billion shares at between HK$27 and HK$30 ($3.45-$3.83) apiece.

The flotation will be a test of investor appetite following anti-government protests that have roiled Hong Kong for nearly four months and have weighed on the stock market.

If completed, the IPO would provide a boost for the former British colony after China's Alibaba Group Holding Ltd last month delayed a listing worth up to $15 billion amid the unrest. "You could say that the conditions are more challenging, but when we listen to potential investors we believe that there is solid excitement about this business and its IPO," said Jan Craps, CEO of Budweiser APAC.

The new Budweiser APAC offering includes a rare "upsize" option that will enable the company to sell up to 36.8% more shares. Assuming it exercises the option in full at the top end of the price range, the sale could raise up to $6.6 billion before any regular overallotment option is included. Belgium-based AB InBev would raise up to $4.8 billion without the upsize option.

Proceeds will help the company, the world's largest brewer, reduce debts of more than $100 billion, accumulated following the purchase of rival SABMiller in late 2016.

Copyright Reuters, 2019

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