The Hanoitimes - Vietnam is speeding up the equitization process, which is an opportunity for foreign investors, including Carlsberg, according to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc has encouraged Danish brewer Carlsberg to purchase an additional stake in Hanoi Beer Alcohol and Beverage (Habeco), the government portal reported.
Vietnam is speeding up the equitization process, which is an opportunity for foreign investors, including Carlsberg, Phuc told Carlsberg's CEO Cees't Hart in a meeting on September 12.
Carlsberg currently holds 17.34% of Habeco and has expressed an interest in raising the stake, but discussions have dragged for years.
Phuc urged both sides to quickly discuss and resolve any remaining issues for the stake sale.
On his part, Hart said Carlsberg wanted to invest significantly in Vietnam's second largest domestic brewer since becoming Habeco's strategic investor in 2008.
Carlsberg has been in talks with Vietnam's Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) to facilitate the investment, Hart added.
According to Reuters, the government planned to fully divest its 81% stake in Habeco.
However, as Carlsberg has the right of first refusal, it is vital for the two sides to work out the deal before Habeco can proceed with the further unloading of its shares on the stock market. The major hurdle in the negotiations is believed to be the high share price set by Habeco that exceeds Carlsberg's valuation.
On this matter, in a previous response to Hanoitimes, Carlsberg's representative stressed that the company supports the government's divestment agenda, thus, "we endeavor to serve as a loyal partner for the Government throughout the divestment process."
"Carlsberg has been a strategic investor since 2008 with pre-emption right. However, this does not necessarily mean that we should not pay a fair price for a State asset. We recognize that Hanoi beer brand is a good brand, Habeco is a good company, and we are willing to pay a fair price for acquiring the asset," the representative added.
Last December, Vietnam Beverage, a unit of Thai Beverage, successfully acquired 53.59% Saigon Alcohol Beer and Beverage (Sabeco) shares for US$4.8 billion.
In 2017, beer consumption in Vietnam was estimated to be over 4 billion liters, up 260,000 liters (6%) over 2016, according to the Vietnam Beer Alcohol and Beverage Association (VBA).
This number is close to the target of 4.1 billion liters by 2020 set in the master plan for the development of the Vietnamese alcohol, beer, and beverages sector approved by MoIT, meaning each Vietnamese person will consume around 43 liters per year.
Sabeco, Vietnam's largest brewer with 40% of the beer market share, has produced 1.77 billion liters of beer alone, an increase of 6.6% year-on-year, while the second largest Vietnamese brewer, Habeco (18% market share), brewed 657.6 million liters, down 6.5%.