Saigon Beer, Alcohol and Beverage Corp or Sabeco
, the largest brewer in Vietnam, will consider listing its shares on the Hochiminh Stock Exchange (HOSE), home to many large-cap companies, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) said in a recent note.
In a response to the Vietnam Association of Financial Investors (VAFI), the ministry attributed the delay in listing to the unrealized scheme to reduce the state holding in the firm although it has submitted the privatization plan to the government four times since 2012.
“The ministry acknowledges that the delay in listing has not meet investors’ expectations. Therefore, it will ask the government for approval to list on the HOSE soon,” says the document.
VAFI has repeatedly urged the government to speed up the divestment from Sabeco and its Hanoi-based peer Habeco
, the country’s two largest beer producers, arguing that it would help improve performance of the firms.
The association has asked MoIT, which represents the state holdings in the two brewers, to quickly cut its ownership in Sabeco and Habeco from 89.59% and 82% presently, respectively, to below 50%.
Dutch firm Heineken
has been the sole foreign stakeholder with 5% in Sabeco, which went public in 2008.
“VAFI believes that if Sabeco and Habeco soon go on bourse and if MoIT picks up qualified personnel to manage the state holdings, these two companies will have their state assets added by at least $1 billion,” said VAFI Vice Chairman Nguyen Hoang Hai said.
The ministry has drawn up a plan to cut its holding in Sabeco to as low as 36% in a single tranche. It is not clear where the plan has received endorsement from the government.
A large number of overseas and domestic firms have shown interest in buying shares of the brewer once the withdrawal takes place.
Four foreign players include Thai Beverage Group (ThaiBev), Japan’s Asahi Breweries, the U.S.-based SAB Miller and the Netherlands’ Heineken. Domestic investors such as Saigon Securities and Duc Binh Group have also submitted bids.