Claims of the potential sale are “false and without merit,” ThaiBev said in a stock exchange filing.
“ThaiBev, through its subsidiary Vietnam Beverage Company Limited, is confident in its business in Vietnam… Vietnam continues to be one of ThaiBev’s core markets and is integral to its goal of becoming a stable and sustainable leader in Southeast Asia’s beverage industry.”
The Thai company said last month it was evaluating strategic options to optimise its asset portfolio and confirmed that listing its regional beer assets was one of the options at its disposal for raising funds. In its regulatory filing this week, the company said such discussions were at an early stage and there was no assurance that a transaction would occur.
Bloomberg had earlier reported that ThaiBev was considering a Singapore IPO for its brewery business that could value the unit at as much as $10 billion. In a December 12 report, the Financial Times quoted analysts as saying that ThaiBev’s carving out of its brewery unit “could be intended to spur an offer from Budweiser APAC for Sabeco.”
ThaiBev acquired a majority stake in Sabeco, short for Saigon Beer – Alcohol – Beverage Corporation, for almost $5 billion in 2017. The deal put the billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi-controlled company in a leading position in Vietnam’s beer market, which is estimated to be growing at 5.6 per cent annually.
Sabeco led the domestic beer market with a share of 43 per cent in 2018, according to Vietcombank Securities Company. The local beer market could reach $7.7 billion this year and as much as $9.6 billion by 2023, according to research agency Statista.
Sabeco went public in 2016 and has been one of the country’s largest companies by market capitalisation. Its current market value is around $6.4 billion.
Heineken had acquired more than 5 per cent of Sabeco in its IPO but recently reduced its stake to 4.3 per cent. Apart from ThaiBev, which owns nearly 54 per cent of Sabeco, the Vietnam Ministry of Industry and Trade holds a 36 per cent stake in the company.
In addition to a stable stock price, Sabeco has seen increases in revenue and profit in the first nine months of 2019 to 28.3 trillion dong ($1.2 billion) and 4.2 trillion dong respectively.
“There is still room for Sabeco to grow in order to gain the top position in different domestic market segments before it expands to international markets,” said Bao Viet Securities analyst Truong Sy Phu.