Vietnam government is going to sell its remaining 36% stake in the country’s largest brewing group Sabeco by the end of this year. The company is on a list of 139 enterprises to be sold by sovereign fund State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC) which was published this week. The government’s stake in these companies will be transferred to the SCIC by August 31.
In December 2017, Vietnam Beverage, a subsidiary of Thai beverage company ThaiBev. bought in an auction a 53.59% stake in the state-owned brewer at a record price of USD 4.84 billion (inside.beer, 18.12.2017).The state kept a 36% stake in the company by this time to secure its interests and the remaining 10% stake in Sabeco were held by third party investors including Heineken.
The Dutch brewing group which was also interested in acquiring a majority interest in Sabeco but did not succeed in the auction in 2017, already held a 5.31% share since 2008. After losing the race for Sabeco, Heineken sold last year nearly 5.2 million shares equivalent to an approximate 0.81% in Sabeco. The price of VND1.219 trillion (USD 53 million) was paid by investors, whose identity were not disclosed. With the remaining stake of 4.32 percent, which is held by Heineken, its regional subsidiary Heineken Asia Pacific, and related companies, the Dutch brewing group has now lost its status as a “large shareholder” (inside.beer, 15.11.2019).
The SCIC announcement will also put an end to speculations that the state-owned shares have already been sold to Chinese investors. Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai, already denied such rumors during a press conference in October last year (inside.beer, 3.10.2019).
Next to its stake in Sabeco, Vietnam government still holds 87% of the shares in Habeco, the other former state-owned brewer. Privatization of Habeco has come to stand-still, since Carlsberg, who already owns a minority share in Habeco, could not agree with the officials on a sales price. International breweries like Heineken and Carlsberg have eaten in recent years into the market share of the former state monopolists. In 2019, sales of Habeco reached about 4 million hectoliters which is only about half of the existing capacity.
“The cake is still the same but competitors continue to expand. So Habeco has to do its best efforts and change every day to regain market share, "said Ngo Que Lam, General Director of Habeco. In the last two years, Habeco has already initiated a lot of changes under a new leadership by creating a new corporate design, developing new sales guidelines and systems, and introducing new products.