Vietnam’s biggest brewer Sabeco has taken a step towards a long-awaited listing on the Ho Chi Minh stock exchange, a government official said on Thursday, some eight years after the company held an initial public offering (IPO).
State-owned Sabeco has filed documents seeking approval from the Ministry of Industry and Trade to join the VN index, Phan Dang Tuat, head of the ministry’s enterprise renovation and development committee, told Reuters.
The company held an IPO in 2008, which in Vietnam is a separate process to stock listing.
The Saigon Beer, Alcohol, Beverage Corporation, as Sabeco is formally known, is valued by the government at $2 billion.
As the biggest brewer in Vietnam, Asia’s third-largest beer market after China and Japan, it has long been on the radar of Asian and European beer giants.
Tuat did not give any further information, such as a timeframe for the listing. The listing process usually takes about two months for local bourses.
The government, which has come under criticism from some investors for the slow pace of privatisations, said last month it would fully divest from its two biggest brewers, Sabeco and Habeco. That would include selling a 89.59 percent stake in Sabeco worth $1.8 billion, by the end of 2017.
The government wants to list Sabeco before selling 53.59 percent this year and the rest in 2017.
Sabeco has received interest from several major foreign brewers since the government earmarked it for privatisation, but potential partners keen to exploit changing lifestyles and a fast-growing middle class have faced repeated delays.
ThaiBev, the flagship company of Bangkok’s billionaire beer magnate Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, is among the potential suitors for a stake in Sabeco and has interests in Vietnam that include dairy, logistics, hotels and retail.
His rival, Boon Rawd Brewery, maker of Singha beer, is expected to gain a foothold in the Vietnam market via consumer goods firm Masan Group, after it agreed a $1.1 billion deal in December that included creating a Masan beer subsidiary.