Vietnam's top brewers Sabeco, Habeco to list on main bourse soon

Vietnam's top brewers Sabeco, Habeco to list on main bourse soon
People monitor a stock index board on October 17, 2016. Photo by Reuters/ Edgar Su

The government has asked the country's biggest brewers, Sabeco and Habeco, to list shares on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange within the next few weeks, local media has reported.

The privatization of Sabeco and Habeco has been awaited by both local and foreign investors who are interested in the strong growth of Vietnam’s beer market, the third largest in Asia with an estimated annual output increase of 25 percent in the next four years.

“The two companies are expected to complete their listings before December 20,” Phan Chi Dung, a senior official from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, was quoted by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper as saying.

He said that the two brewers’ performance on the stock market will help the government make its decision on how to proceed with its divestment plan.

Habeco had its market debut late last month, but at the Hanoi Stock Exchange's Unlisted Public Company Market, not the main bourse in Ho Chi Minh City.

The government's plan to exit Saigon Beer and Hanoi Beer has been on and off for several years. They are among the few state-owned enterprises that have performed extremely well.

Sabeco, as the dominant player, has 46 percent of the local beer market while Habeco has 17 percent. They remain 90 percent and 82 percent owned by the state respectively. Together the two companies account for more than 60 percent of the local market.

In its latest privatization push, the government is expected to sell a 53.6 percent stake in Sabeco this year and the remaining in 2017. It plans to fully divest from Habeco by the end of this year.

The public stakes in the country’s biggest brewers are managed by the trade ministry, which said the privatization process of Habeco had faced delays.

Habeco’s only strategic shareholder Carlsberg is keen to increase its stake. When Carlsberg became the only strategic shareholder in Habeco in 2009, it reached an agreement to have priority rights to acquire any stake in the local brewer on offer. This even allows the Danish brewer, which holds about a 17 percent stake at the moment, to intervene in the government’s divestment.

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