Thaibev denies plans to sell Sabeco shares

By Phuong Dong   December 19, 2019 | 07:53 am PT
Thaibev denies plans to sell Sabeco shares
A drinker holds a bottle of Saigon Beer, a product of Sabeco, at a restaurant in Hanoi's Old Quarter. Photo by Reuters/Kham.
Thaibev has formally denied that it plans to sell shares of subsidiary Sabeco, Vietnam’s largest brewer, to Budweiser APAC.

In a declaration sent to the Singapore Exchange (SGX) on Wednesday, Thaibev, one of Asia’s largest beverage companies, confirmed that it was not seeking buyers for Sabeco shares. "Vietnam continues to be one of Thaibev’s core markets and is integral to our goal of becoming a stable and sustainable leader in Southeast Asia’s beverage industry," it said.

The firm noted it is "confident in its business in Vietnam and remains strongly committed to making Sabeco the pride of Vietnam".

Thaibev reiterated that it is presently exploring with its advisers, among other things, the potential listing of its beer business, adding that the process is still in its early stages and there is no certainty or assurance that any such transaction will occur.

"Shareholders are advised to exercise caution and seek appropriate professional advice before dealing in their Thaibev shares and securities, and refrain from taking any action in respect of their investments which may be prejudicial to their interests," it said.

Bloomberg had reported in late November that Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi was considering an IPO of its beer business in Thailand and Vietnam on the SGX next year. If successful, this would be the largest IPO on this exchange with a valuation of about $10-12 billion.

But in a Financial Times article dated November 12, Euan McLeish, an analyst at U.S. investment management firm Bernstein, said that ThaiBev has no immediate need for capital, and so the IPO could be intended to spur an offer from Budweiser APAC for Sabeco, which has a 55 per cent share of Vietnam’s market.

Budweiser APAC is a subsidiary of American brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and operates in the Asia-Pacific region.

Sabeco is owned 53.59 percent by Vietnam Beverage, a subsidiary of Thai beverage company ThaiBev. The Vietnamese government, represented by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, owns a 36 percent stake in the company.

Thaibev had bought its stake in Sabeco when the government publicly auctioned its shares in December 2017.

In its latest financial report, Sabeco reported revenues of over VND28.3 trillion ($1.22 billion) in the first nine months of this year, up 10 percent year-on-year. Revenue from beer in the period accounted for 86 percent of total, or VND24.3 trillion ($1.05 billion).

But pre-tax profits fell approximately 7 percent year-on-year to VND4.2 trillion ($181 million).

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