Vietnam. ThaiBev downplays Saigon Beer rumours

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Thai Beverage Plc (ThaiBev), the country’s biggest drinks company, says it is ready to pursue mergers and acquisitions on the back of its financial strength.

“Our financial status is quite strong,” said executive vice-president Sithichai Chaikriangkrai. “If we get an interesting deal, we can move forward to finalise it in a short period of time with many financial tools.”

ThaiBev has been mentioned by Euromonitor as one of three companies showing an interest in buying a major stake in Saigon Beer Alcohol 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 Corporation for $404 million, according to a state-run news website.

Mr Sithichai refused to confirm whether ThaiBev is interested in Saigon Beer.

“ThaiBev’s management will consider acquisition opportunities to diversify its revenue sources and capitalise on growth opportunities in the Asean region,” he said. “It wants to be a top-five beverage company in Asia by 2020.”

Fitch Ratings assigned ThaiBev an initial long-term issuer default rating of BBB and a national long-term rating of AA+ with a stable outlook.

The company’s ratings were given based on ThaiBev’s strength as the leading drinks company in Thailand with a solid distribution network.

ThaiBev has a variety of home-grown and imported products. Its financial strength and credit rating incorporate a prudent approach to leverage and a commitment to an investment-grade profile.

Some 95% of revenue comes from local sales and 5% from overseas; 87% comes from alcoholic products and 13% from non-alcoholic.

ThaiBev directly holds a 28% stake in Fraser and Neave of Singapore.

Under the 2020 Vision plan, ThaiBev’s sales will reach 300 billion baht and the contributions from alcoholic and non-alcoholic products will be 50:50.