ThaiBev dismissed reports it is seeking a buyer for its business in Vietnam. On Friday the company said in a filing that the claim, made in “recent articles published by certain news media in Vietnam” is “entirely without merit and that the company has no intention of selling its businesses in Vietnam in any way.”
Rumors started last year when ThaiBev said it was considering an initial public offering in Singapore that could raise as much as USD 2 to USD 3 billion (inside.beer, 29.11.2019). Shortly later the Financial Times reported that “analysts think the move is a feint intended to seek a buyer for the company’s richly valued Vietnamese unit.”
After ThaiBev secured in an auction in December 2017 54% of the shares of Vietnam’s leading brewer Sabeco at a record price of nearly USD 5 billion, many people said that the price was way too high as it marked a 36 multiple of core earnings and the premium could only partly be justified by the appeal of Sabeco and the Vietnamese beer market (inside.beer, 18.12.2017).
In the last weeks, the speculations were further fueled in local media in Vietnam which caused ThaiBev today to clarify the situation in a statement signed by Ms. Nantika Ninvoraskul, Senior Vice President Corporate Services at ThaiBev.
“ThaiBev remains fully committed to realizing the full potential of its core businesses in Vietnam, in particular Saigon Beer - Alcohol - Beverage Corporation (Sabeco), and aims to solidify its position as the largest beverage company in Southeast Asia and a leader in beer.” In order to “optimise its asset portfolio and enhance shareholder value”, ThaiBev is nonetheless exploring a potential listing of its beer business. “In view of the current market and economic conditions, any potential listing will be reviewed and evaluated at an appropriate time, when the global economic situation and outlook has improved”, the company said.
Sabeco operates 26 breweries and 10 trading subsidiaries and has a distribution network consisting of 100,000 retailers across Vietnam. Its portfolio of beers includes Bia Saigon Special, Bia Saigon Export, Bia Saigon Lager, Bia Saigon Gold and Bia 333.