Ethiopia: Agency’s Revised Plan May Thwart Heineken’s Market Entry

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The aspiration of Heineken NV to expand into the Ethiopian market rests with the board of directors of the Privatisation and Public Enterprises Supervising Agency (PPESA) that is to decide whether to follow through with the agency’s amended plan to retain six enterprises under government ownership.
Bedele Brewery, Harar Brewery, Meta Abo Brewery, Awash Winery, National Liquor Factory, and Asela Malt Factory are to remain under the supervision of the PPESA for the next five years as the growth potential of the enterprises does not merit privatisation, according to the agency’s revised five-year strategic plan that was issued in March 2011.
The tender for the privatisation of Bedele and Harar, which started operations in 1993 and1983, respectively, was floated in January 2011.
Heineken’s initial offer for Bedele, which has an annual production capacity of 75 million bottles, was 85.2 million dollars. This exceeded those made by Carlsberg Brewery (68 million dollars), BGI Ethiopia (64 million dollars), and South West – SABMiller (70 million dollars).
Bedele exports the beer, which has a 4.2pc alcohol content, to the United States (US).
Although most of the raw materials used to make it are produced locally, the company imports yeast, which can be reused three to four times, from Europe as well as malt from Germany when there is a domestic shortage.
The Dutch brewery’s offer of 78.2 million dollars was the only one received by Harar, which has an annual production capacity of 67 million bottles.
Heineken was formed in 1952 and named after the founder. The company, which has 140 breweries in more than 70 countries, achieved a net profit growth of 19.7pc in 2010, making it the world’s third largest brewer.
“The PPESA has finalised its evaluation of the business plan and technical proposal submitted by Heineken,” Asebe Kebede, deputy head officer of corporate communications for the agency, told Fortune. “What remains is for the board to decide on the matter.”
However, the revision of the strategic plan has thrown a spanner in the works.
“If interest to buy these companies is expressed by the private sector, the government will decide whether the offer serves the interests of the country,” Asebe said. “Plans can move forward or backwards, depending on the prospects. The process should not be an issue; the question is what would best serve the people of Ethiopia.”
The final decision rests with the board, according to Asebe who could not indicate a deadline.
“The board includes senior government officials who might be burdened with their duties,” he told Fortune. “Upon receipt of the evaluation report they could announce their decision within two weeks.”
The Amstel-Heineken brand is one of the largest in the world. It brews and sells more than 200 international, regional, local, and specialty beers and ciders. This includes Primus, Birra Moretti, Sasres, Cruzcamp, Foster’s, Strongbow, Bulmer, Newcastle Brown Ale, Zywiec, Ochota, Kingfisher, Tiger, Dos Equis, Star, Tecate, and Sol.
BGI Ethiopia, Ethiopia’s biggest brewer (considering sales), accounted for about half of the 300 million litres of beer sold in the country during the 12 months before July 7, 2009, according to Access Capital.
Beer consumption is expected to grow by about 15pc annually for five years, it projected.