On midnight December 12, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoIT) has released the name of the sole bidder that registered to buy more than 25 per cent of Sabeco, commonly known as Saigon Beer. This investor is identified on the website as Vietnam Beverage Company Limited.
Vietnam Beverage, just established in Vietnam in October, is a subsidiary of Thai Beverage, a major beer brand owned by Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi. The legal representative of Vietnam Beverage is Michael Chye Hin Fah, board member at Vietnam Dairy Products JSC (Vinamilk) and executive vice president at F&N, another entity controlled by Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi.
Back in early 2014, Sirivadhanabhakdi has already expressed his strong interest in Sabeco, which is Vietnam’s largest brewery with 41 per cent of market share. A controlling stake in Sabeco will help Sirivadhanabhakdi gain a quick competitive edge in Vietnam’s lucrative beer market, where ThaiBev remains a newcomer.
The Sabeco stake sale will take place on December 18 at Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange, in which 54 per cent of the state-owned shares will be offered to external investors. Prices start at VND320,000 ($14.09), which means MoIT expects to earn at least $5 billion from the sale.
Due to the foreign ownership limit that stands at 49 per cent, overseas investors are allowed to buy at most 39 per cent of Sabeco’s shares in this sale. The remaining 10 per cent already belongs to the Dutch beer group Heineken and other smaller investors.
Several breweries around the world have previously announced their intention to join the stake sale, including San Miguel, Heineken, SABMiller, Asahi and Kirin. However, according to the latest update, only Thai Beverage registered to buy more than 25 per cent of the offered shares.
After the sale, MoIT will retain a 36-per-cent stake. According to MoIT officials, this level of control will allow the government to remain influential at Vietnam’s number-one brewery.
Sabeco’s shares closed at VND293,000 ($12.92) on Monday, falling from its peak at VND339,000 ($14.95) on November 29.