State sets short deadline to divest from beer giants

September 01, 2016 | 15:07
The state plans to complete the divestment from Saigon Beer, Alcohol and Beverage JSC (Sabeco) and Hanoi Beer, Alcohol and Beverage JSC (Habeco) within 16 months.

The intention was announced by Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai at the government’s regular press conference on August 31.

Accordingly, the state will auction 82 per cent of Habeco, equalling VND9 trillion ($403.57 million), later this year. The divestment from Sabeco will be divided into two phases. The first phase will be implemented in 2016 with 53.59 per cent stake worth VND24.5 trillion ($1.09 billion), the remaining 36 per cent, worth VND16 trillion ($717.47 million), will be issued in 2017 after Sabeco completes its listing on the stock exchange.

Hai said that domestic and foreign investors alike can join the sale. The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) will hire consultancy companies to build specific divestment plans as well as verify the prices of the two enterprises’ shares. In case the two beer giants are listed on the stock exchange, their listed prices will be used as a basis to calculate the initial prices offered at the auctions.

The MoIT will ask the two companies to list their shares on the Vietnamese stock exchanges and draw up a divestment schedule identifying stages and deadlines, after receiving official directions from Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

According to the Vietnam Association of Financial Investors, both Habeco and Sabeco have been equitised for eight years, however, both have been delaying getting listed on the stock markets.

According to the Vietnam Beer Alcohol Beverage Association (VBA)’s statistics published in January, Sabeco and Habeco’s beer products make up 60 per cent of the domestic market. Sabeco is the largest beer firm, having produced 1.38 billion litres in 2015, making up 46 per cent of the market. Habeco ranks third with 667.8 million litres, equalling a 17.3 per cent market share.

In early 2015, Thai Beverage, owned by Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, made a $1 billion offer to buy a 40 per cent stake in Sabeco, however, the necessary government authorisation for the deal is yet to be issued.

In 2008, Carlsberg became a strategic partner of Habeco after buying a 17.23 per cent stake. Carlsberg expressed interest in buying a further 13 per cent, but the deal, yet again, hinges on the approval of the MoIT.

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By By Ha Vy

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