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Thailand. ThaiBev looks abroad to grow

Thai Beverage Plc (ThaiBev) will aggressively boost its business footprint in Asean through mergers and acquisitions, including a further stake in Vinamilk, Vietnam's largest dairy producer.

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The moves will help ThaiBev achieve its goal of becoming a leading, sustainable drinks company in Asean by 2020. Chief executive Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi said ThaiBev is interested in acquiring major stakes in Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corporation and Hanoi Beer Alcohol and Beverage Corporation.

The Vietnamese government wants to divest of its 89.59% stake in Saigon Beer for UScopy.8 billion in auctions this year and next, along with its 82% stake in Hanoi Beer Alcohol and Beverage for $404 million.

"We're interested in both Saigon and Hanoi beer, but we will wait for bidding details from the Vietnamese government," Mr Thapana said.

Apart from the two beer operations, ThaiBev is eyeing investment in more drinks businesses in Vietnam.

"We will continue to expand our beverage business in Vietnam because it's one of the growth markets along with Myanmar," Mr Thapana said.

ThaiBev plans to increase its stake in Vinamilk, in which Fraser and Neave, ThaiBev's subsidiary in Singapore, holds 11% now.

Apart from bidding for the two Vietnamese beer operations, the company plans to begin marketing its Chang beer in Vietnam later this month.

Chang beer will be sold at Metro cash-and-carry stores. Berli Jucker Plc (BJC), a subsidiary of ThaiBev, acquired Metro earlier this year.

Thai Corp and Phu Thai, two trading companies under BJC, will also help distribute Chang beer in Vietnam.

Moreover, ThaiBev plans to add to its whisky portfolio in Vietnam. It is studying the launch of a new whisky brand or the export of existing brands from Thailand to Vietnam.

The new whisky brand would begin sales in the Vietnamese market next year. The group already markets Old Pulteney premium Scotch whisky in Vietnam.

"Apart from Vietnam, we also plan to expand our logistics and beverage businesses in Myanmar," Mr Thapana said. "We have sent our team to survey the market in Indonesia before marketing some non-alcoholic products there."

To accommodate its aggressive expansion, ThaiBev's board approved a business restructuring, effective on Oct 1, in a bid to pursue the Vision 2020 goal of becoming a leading drinks company in Asean.

The company will have two new units, brand investment management and route-to-market, to support its three core units of spirits, beer and non-alcoholic drinks.

Mr Thapana himself will look after brand investment management while Ueychai Tantha-Obhas, who has more than three decades of experience in Thailand's spirits markets, will handle the route-to-market unit.

Mr Ueychai will be promoted as the company's senior executive vice-president. His key work is to oversee distribution channels and harmonise businesses across alcohol and non-alcohol businesses under ThaiBev.

Apart from Mr Ueychai, the board also appointed three experienced executives to serve as CEOs for the spirits, beer and non-alcoholic product units: Prapakon Thongtheppairot, Edmond Neo Kim Soon and Vivek Chhabra.

"With the new business structure, we could transform ThaiBev into a truly sustainable organisation," Mr Thapana said.

ThaiBev will spend 2 billion baht to build the Chang brand for beer, soda and drinking water next year. The company aims for Chang to be the leader in Thailand's beer market with a 45% share by 2020.

13 Sep. 2016

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