Carlsberg gets all clear to increase Vietnam investment

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Danish brewer Carlsberg has been given the all clear by Vietnamese authorities to increase its stake in Vietnamese brewer Habeco to 30 percent, a company spokesman told Reuters on Monday.

Carlsberg, the world’s fourth-largest brewer, bought 16 percent in state-owned Habeco for 600 million Danish crowns ($102.25 million) in 2008.

In 2009 it signed a memorandum of understanding with the aim of increasing the investment to 30 percent.

“We expect to have it finished before the year-end. We have been told that we can proceed with the process, a process that has been stalled for a long time,” said Carlsberg communications director Jens Bekke, without giving more details.

The stake will cost about $72.4 million, Vietnamese newspaper Dau Tu, which is published by Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment, reported. Carlsberg declined to comment on the price.

The brewer has been in Vietnam since 1993 and the country is seen as a key market in fast-growing south-east Asia.

Asia accounted for 18 percent of Carlsberg’s total sales volume last year and 12 percent of its operating profit.

In October, Carlsberg said it was taking full control of Vietnam’s Hue Brewery, buying the 50 percent it did not already own.

Carlsberg’s market share is roughly 33 percent in Vietnam and it sells beer under the Halida, Huda, Ha Long Hanoi and Viet Ha Bia Hoi brands as well as the Carlsberg brand. ($1 = 5.8682 Danish crowns) (By Johan Ahlander and Teis Jensen; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)