Vietnam. Carlsberg in talks over additional Habeco stake

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Danish brewer Carlsberg is negotiating with the Hanoi Beer Alcohol and Beverage Corporation (Habeco) over the purchase of an additional stake following the latter’s listing on the UPCom market last week, officials have said.

“Negotiations will be carried out between related parties on October 31,” Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Hoang Quoc Vuong told a press conference following the government’s monthly meeting on October 29.

Both Carlsberg and Habeco were not available for comment. Together with the Saigon Beer Alcohol and Beverage Corporation (Sabeco), the government is keen to divest from Habeco in 2016-2017.

carlsberg_vn_hudaCarlsberg has already been strategic shareholder of Habeco with a holding of 17.08 per cent since 2009. The sale of State capital in Habeco prioritizes strategic shareholders that participated in the previous equitization of the brewer, according to Deputy Minister Vuong.

Both Habeco and Sabeco have been equitized before, with the State still holding 81.79 per cent of Habeco, its employees 0.56 per cent, other shareholders 0.88 per cent, and its strategic investor, Carlsberg, 17.08 per cent.
Deputy Minister Vuong committed to “carrying out the sale of State capital in Habeco in accordance with the direction of the Prime Minister.”

In late-August Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc directed MoIT to immediately take steps to list and divest State capital in Habeco and Sabeco. The trading price will be used as a reference in the sale. The State capital in Habeco is estimated at VND9 trillion ($403.4 million).

The sale of State capital in Sabeco, meanwhile, will be carried out in two phases, with the first to divest 53.59 per cent of the State holding, worth VND24 trillion ($108 billion), this year, and the second to sell 36 per cent, or VND16 trillion ($720 million), next year.

On October 28, more than 231.8 million shares of Habeco (Code: BHN) officially debuted on the UPCom market with a reference price of VND39,000 ($1.74) per share.

Habeco’s shares proved popular on its first day of trade, quickly rising to its ceiling price of VND54,600 ($2.44) per share from its reference price of VND39,000 ($1.74). At the end of the October 28 session, excess demand for buying into Habeco stood at 200,000 shares at the ceiling price.

During the monthly government meeting in September, Deputy Minister Vuong revealed that the divestment plans for the two corporations may be delayed to 2017. However, Minister and Head of the Office of the Government, Mr. Mai Tien Dung, said that MoIT will be held responsible if the divestment and listing process are delayed.

In 2015 Habeco’s total revenue reached VND9.64 trillion ($432 million) and after-tax profit VND951 billion ($42.6 million). Habeco and Sabeco are Vietnam’s two largest beverage producers. Sabeco was the largest beer brewer last year, reporting production of 1.38 billion liters. The No. 2 position was taken from Habeco by Heineken.

Formerly a small brewery founded by a Frenchman named Hommel in 1890, Habeco was acquired by MoIT in 2003. In 1958 the very first bottle of Vietnamese beer was capped, called Truc Bach, marking a major turning point in the country’s brewing industry. Habeco has expanded to 25 wholly-owned subsidiaries in many provinces with famous products including Hanoi draft beer, Hanoi bottled beer, and Hanoi canned beer.

Carlsberg Vietnam comprises two entities, including trading and production companies. In 1993 it entered Vietnam via a joint venture called South East Asia Brewery and now owns 100 per cent of the company. In 1994 it acquired 50 per cent of Hue Brewery Limited (HBL), the market leader in central Vietnam.

In 2011 HBL became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Carlsberg when the company acquired the remaining 50 per cent. In 2008 Carlsberg created a joint venture with Habeco in the form of the Hanoi Vung Tau Brewery Company.

In 2009 it became a strategic investor in Habeco and in 2014 the Hanoi Vung Tau joint venture was converted into a fully-owned subsidiary of Carlsberg Vietnam.

Carlsberg Vietnam produces and markets Huda and Huda Gold in central Vietnam and Halida in northern Vietnam. The Danish brewer also produces and distributes Turborg and Carlsberg throughout Vietnam.

Carlsberg Vietnam currently has three breweries, excluding Habeco sites, and holds a market position of second, behind Sabeco. The company has a 34 per cent market share and its annual beer consumption per capita stands at 40 liters.