Vietnam: Heineken, SABMiller silent on Sabeco stake reports

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Heineken and SABMiller have declined to comment on reports that they are separately considering taking a stake in state-owned Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corporation (Sabeco) in Vietnam.

The country’s Ministry of Planning and Investment is considering “proposals” from the two brewers – and Asahi – according to newspaper Dau Tu today (23 November). Talk of Ho Chi Minh City-based Sabeco seeking foreign investment emerged around five years ago, with Anheuser-Busch InBev and ThaiBev also linked to the group at the time.

Heineken has its own brewery in Ho Chi Minh City and is also set to boost its exposure in the region, having last week completed its deal to take full control of Asia Pacific Breweries.

Vietnam, with a population of 90.2m, is currently the Dutch’s brewers second-largest market by volume.

On the latest Sabeco reports, a Heineken spokesperson said it is company policy “not to comment on rumours and speculation in the market”.

SABMiller also has a brewery in Vietnam, in Binh Duong. The brewer first entered the Vietnamese market in 2006, through a JV with dairy group Vinamilk, but bought out the group in March 2009. A company spokesperson also declined to comment on the Sabeco speculation.

Asahi was separately linked to a possible stake buy in Sabeco in 2010, but no deal materialised. The company was unavailable for comment.