Viet­nam to sell ma­jor­ity of top brewer Sabeco

The Star Malaysia - StarBiz - - Foreign News -

HO CHI MINH CITY: Viet­nam will kick off the sale of 54% of Sabeco, the coun­try’s big­gest brewer and the maker of Bia Saigon and 333 beers, next month, in an am­bi­tious deal the gov­ern­ment hopes will raise at least US$5bil.

The long-awaited sale has al­ready at­tracted in­ter­est from brew­ers seek­ing ac­cess to what is the sec­ond-most prof­itable mar­ket for Heineken NV, which holds 5% of Saigon Beer Al­co­hol Bev­er­age Corp (Sabeco).

But an­a­lysts said the tripling of Sabeco’s share price to 340,000 dong (US$14.96) from its De­cem­ber 2016 list­ing, and a for­eign own­er­ship limit of 49% could de­ter some global brew­ers from par­tic­i­pat­ing in the auc­tion.

The sale could pro­vide a blue­print for other pri­vati­sa­tions which Hanoi is con­sid­er­ing as part of broader eco­nomic re­forms, in­clud­ing that of peer Habeco, in which Dan­ish brewer Carls­berg A/S owns 17.3% .

The min­inum price for Sabeco’s sale was set at 320,000 dong a share, trade min­istry of­fi­cial Truong Thanh Hoai told a news con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day, days af­ter the com­pany held in­vestor road­shows in Sin­ga­pore and Lon­don.

“The big sale is to in­crease the at­trac­tive­ness,” Hoai said.

For­eign­ers al­ready owned over 10% in Sabeco, and the to­tal limit for such own­er­ship was still capped at 49%, he said.

The gov­ern­ment owns nearly 90 per­cent of Sabeco and an­a­lysts said the low float had in­flated the mar­ket value.

“Through the two re­cent road­shows, we saw a very high level of in­ter­est. Most in­vestors highly val­ued Sabeco’s busi­ness per­for- mance and the po­ten­tial of the beer mar­ket,” Sabeco chair­man Vo Thanh Ha told re­porters.

Viet­nam is on track to be­come Asia’s big­gest per-capita beer mar­ket by 2021 and is shap­ing up as a bat­tle­ground for global brew­ers thanks to a youth­ful pop­u­la­tion and beer-drink­ing cul­ture.

How­ever, Sabeco’s val­u­a­tions have soared, with its shares trad­ing at a price-to-earn­ings mul­ti­ple of 49 com­pared with 20 for Ja­pan’s Asahi Group Hold­ings, 17 for Thai Bev­er­age PCL and 15 for Ja­panese brewer Kirin Hold­ings, Thom­son Reuters data showed.

On Wed­nes­day, the pres­i­dent of the Philip­pines’ San Miguel Corp told Reuters the con­glom­er­ate was look­ing to bid for Sabeco.

Kirin was also in­ter­ested and would make a de­ci­sion once sale de­tails were fi­nalised, a spokesman said.

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