Carlsberg set to raise presence in Vietnam brewery

Hanoi brewery Habeco and Denmark-backed brewery Carlsberg are negotiating for a higher-level strategic cooperation deal, according to Vietnam Investment Review.

A man works at a production line of Hanoi Beer Corporation (Habeco) in Hanoi.

A man works at a production line of Hanoi Beer Corporation (Habeco) in Hanoi.

The local press stated that under the potential deal, Carlsberg will see its ownership in Habeco, one of the three biggest beer companies in Vietnam, increase to a 30 per cent stake.

Habeco is now preparing to hold an extraordinary shareholder meeting to vote on whether the company should sell an additional 13 per cent stake to its strategic investor Carlsberg Breweries A/S, a decision that should have been made on December 7, 2012.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade’s (MoIT) in a document sent to Habeco last November asked Habeco to sell the additional stake to Carlsberg at the price of VND50,015 or $2.4 at current exchange rate. This price is equal to the initial public offering (IPO) price of Habeco in 2008.

A reliable source familiar with the potential deal told VIR that “Habeco delayed last month’s scheduled meeting because the MoIT asked the two firms to negotiate a strategic cooperation agreement before the shareholder meeting to institutionalise the next steps following the transaction. In addition, the ministry also required Habeco to submit a review on cooperation over the past five years and plans for subsequent Carlsberg raising its stake to 30 per cent.

“It is not true that Habeco delayed selling additional stakes to Carlsberg as many rumors claimed after its extraordinary shareholder meeting was postponed. The story now is that two firms are carrying out legal regulations to avoid complications later,” said the source.

Carlsberg officially became Habeco’s strategic partner in 2008. The brewery is holding a 16.07 per cent stake of Habeco. In 2011, Carlsberg signed a memorandum of understanding with Habeco at Carlsberg’s headquarters in Copenhagen to acquire an additional 13 per cent stake at the Hanoi-based brewery. Habeco chairman Tran Tuan Phong said the company was in the process of obeying the MoIT’s guidance.

Habeco already submitted a report to the MoIT on the progress of cooperation over the last five years. However, the report stated that the efficiency of cooperation during the past five years was not as good as expected. This was attributed to the fact that Carlsberg only held a 16.07 per cent stake of Habeco, while under the Carlsberg Group regulations, only companies of which Carlsberg holds more than a 30 per cent stake will be considered a member of the Carlsberg Group, and are eligible to specific preference policies from the group.

Source: Vietnam Investment Review

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