Last week, Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court suspended a long-running case brought by a local citizen five years ago seeking damages for “faulty beer bottles” due to the plaintiff’s numerous absences.
According to the judges, the plaintiff asked to postpone the trial earlier in September and the request was accepted. However, on September 26, his lawyer asked for a further delay.
The judges said the reason given by the plaintiff did not fall under force majeure or an objective obstacle to postpone the trial. Thus, the plaintiff had “given up the right to sue” according to the criminal procedure code.
The plaintiff does not have the right to sue again if there is no new evidence from the original filing, but has the right to appeal against the suspension, the court announced.
In his original letter of intent to sue the company, he said in 2018 he bought a barrel of Bia Saigon bottles – of those, the customer alleges that one bottle was found to have under half of its contents.
The customer asked a court to force the brewer (SABECO) to compensate for the price of the beer bottle (around 45 US cents) as well as damages to mental health equivalent to 10 months of the minimum wage as regulated by the government for the Ho Chi Minh City area, equal to around $1,700.
The customer also asked SABECO to apologise in three consecutive issues of four major newspapers.
The consumer eventually increased his demands, asking for compensation of another $1 million. However, in April 2021, he withdrew the extra demand.
SABECO said it always complies with the laws of Vietnam and also complies with the court’s requirements. Whatever the outcome, SABECO vows that it will keep working to find a solution to this specific problem while also safeguarding its consumer.
The company has been optimistic about its performance for 2023 as a whole. SABECO is projecting net revenues of VND40.28 trillion ($1.72 billion) for 2023 as a whole, an increase of 15 per cent on-year, and an after-tax profit of VND5.78 trillion ($246 million), up 5 per cent on-year.
Shinhan Vietnam Securities assumes SABECO’s growth momentum from 2024 based on the expectation of tourism recovery, contributing to boosting its revenue because about 45 per cent of tourists come from China and Japan – two countries in the top 10 of beer consumption worldwide.
In addition, tourism will boost employment and service industry income, indirectly boosting spending on non-essential items such as beer. Football is also one of the factors promoting beer consumption in Vietnam when two football tournaments, the AFF Cup and Euro 2024, take place next year and can help beer consumption flourish.
Vietnam, with its young population structure and increase in the middle class, will contribute to promoting beer consumption in the long term, the company said.
As expected, SABECO will issue bonus shares at a 1:1 ratio on the date of closing the list of shareholders, carried out on the basis of the contents approved at the company’s 2023 AGM in April.
The number of shares has doubled compared to the 641 million outstanding shares of the group and, at the same time, the company’s charter capital has also doubled.
In addition to the bonus stock distribution plan, SABECO also plans to pay cash dividends at a rate of up to 35 per cent in 2023. Last year, SABECO launched a plan to pay cash dividends at 35 per cent, and actual implementation reached 50 per cent.
The high dividend payment was made on the basis that the company achieved successful business results in the past year.
Also at the AGM, the representative of the Board of Directors said that currently the financial markets are stabilising, and interest rates are decreasing, which contributes to promoting the company’s product consumption activities.
In addition, the rising investment from foreign countries into Vietnam will have a more positive impact on people’s livelihoods and boost consumer spending.
Another factor that may also contribute to supporting product consumption is the resilience of the tourism market, the representative said.