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Vietnam brewer Habeco soars 40 pct on stock listing debut

Vietnam brewer Habeco soars 40 pct on stock listing debut
Truc Bach beer -- a product of Habeco. Photo courtesy of Habeco

Vietnam's Habeco saw its stock soar 40 percent on its market debut on Friday as investors raced to snap up limited shares before the planned sale of the government's majority stake sends the price even higher.

Habeco, which controls 20 percent of Vietnam's beer market, also attracted investors keen to buy into an area of high growth potential. The country is among Asia's biggest beer consumers putting it on the radar of international brewers keen to take advantage of changing lifestyles as its middle class grows.

"Investors have long awaited this listing ... but supply was very scarce as Habeco's free-float is only around 1 percent," said Dang Van Phap, a manager at Viet Capital Securities.

The government owns about 82 percent of Habeco, formally Hanoi Beer Alcohol and Beverage Joint Stock Corp. As of Aug. 31, Denmark's Carlsberg A/S held 17.08 percent.

The brewer hit its upper trading limit to close at 54,600 dong ($2.45) on the Hanoi Stock Exchange's Unlisted Public Company Market. That left it valued at $568 million.

There were bids for 1.95 million Habeco shares as at the end of a trading day which saw just a single transaction - of 100 shares, the minimum permitted by the exchange.

"Short-term demand for Habeco stock should remain solid given its valuation remains reasonable even after today's 40-percent rally ... but for now trading will be among retail investors only," said Viet Capital Securities' Phap.

The maker of Bia Ha Noi beer expects net profit to fall 4.4 percent this year after rising 6.7 percent last year, showed a filing to the Hanoi Stock Exchange.

The brewer eventually aims to list on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange which has stricter listing criteria. ($1 = 22,320 dong)