Foreign partners want to “swallow breweries whole’

VietNamNet Bridge - More than 90 percent of the beer market share is now in the hands of the ‘big four’ – Sabeco, Habeco, Heineken and Carlsberg. 


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The beer consumption in Vietnam has been increasing rapidly



The Thais are holding a controlling stake in Sabeco, and the foreign partner of Habeco is also seeking the same level of control.

Many Vietnamese enterprises have tried to squeeze into the market, but have not succeeded. 

Vinamilk, the nation’s leading dairy producer, tried to jump into the beer market, but had to give up and sold both the brewery and Zorok beer brand. Tan Hiep Phat Group had to abandon Laser. 

Meanwhile, Masan has made big investment in Su Tu Trang (White Lion) but has not gained success.

More than 90 percent of the beer market share is now in the hands of the ‘big four’ – Sabeco, Habeco, Heineken and Carlsberg. 

Foreign investors also harbor ambitious plans of acquiring the whole market “cake”.

After spending $5 billion to become the biggest shareholder in Sabeco, the Thai billionaire has removed the limitation on the foreign ownership ratio. Foreign investors now can hold up to 100 percent of shares in the brewery.

The move is believed to pave the way for Thaibev to acquire all of Sabeco, which Thai businesses usually do after buying Vietnamese businesses.

The key positions at Sabeco were replaced after Thai investors took over the brewery. Two Thais, Koh Poh Tiong and Neo Gim Siong, are now holding the posts of chair of management board and CEO, respectively.

At Habeco, after acquiring more than 17 percent of shares in 2008, Carlsberg has repeatedly expressed its willingness to increase its ownership ratio.

Local newspapers commented that the foreign partner has received a commitment to raise its ownership ratio to 30 percent, but this is not its final goal. What it wants is 51 percent of Habeco shares or more, which would allow it to control the brewery.

Cees't Hart, CEO of Carlsberg Group, at a recent meeting with PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc, repeated the group’s wish to make a bigger investment in Habeco after becoming a strategic shareholder in 2008.

Carlsberg is now holding 17.34 percent of Habeco shares, while the Ministry of Industry and Trade has 81.79 percent. Carlsberg had some working sessions with the ministry and agencies to speed up the raising of Carlsberg’s ownership ratio in Habeco. However, the deal has not been completed because of various problems.

Besides beer, Carlsberg also does business in alcohol and food, business fields where the allowed foreign ownership ratio is up to 49 percent.

In 2017, Sabeco had VND34.4 trillion worth of sales, with 87 percent from beer sales, while the net profit was VND4.95 trillion.

Habeco had VND9.8 trillion in revenue in 2017 and net profit of VND660 billion.


US$1=VND22,000


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Kim Chi

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