Business

Australian brewer looking to tap into Vietnam’s top beer firms

Vietnam’s seemingly unquenchable thirst for the ‘amber nectar’ has got the Aussie giant after a taste.

Australia’s leading beer company Carlton & United Breweries said it wants to acquire shares in Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corp. (Sabeco) and Hanoi Beer Alcohol Beverage Corp. (Habeco), the biggest brewers in Vietnam.

Jan Craps, CEO of CUB, said his company wants to become a strategic investor in Vietnam’s two prized brewers to cash in on the increasing amount of beer that is being consumed in the country.

CUB also has plans to expand its beer factory in Binh Duong Province, Craps told Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue during Hue’s visit to Australia on Monday.

Founded in 1907, CUB accounts for 47 percent of Australia’s market share. It became a subsidiary of Belgian brewer AB InBev in October last year.

Sabeco and Habeco will submit their state divestment plans to the government this month, and their IPOs will be launched later this year, the Ministry of Industry and Trade said earlier this month.

This is part of the government’s bigger plan to reduce its holdings in state-owned firms.

The state currently holds an 89.59 percent stake in Sabeco and an 82 percent stake in Habeco. Together the two producers account for 60 percent of the domestic market share, with Sabeco making up 40 percent.

The trade ministry has predicted that Vietnamese drinkers will consume four billion liters of beer this year after guzzling back 3.8 billion liters last year, which means an average of 42 liters per person, four liters more than in 2015.

Vietnam is forecast to lead Southeast Asia with volume set to reach 2.3 billion liters from 2016-2021, market researcher Euromonitor International said in its July report. Southeast Asia’s volume gains could well surpass larger regions, such as North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the report said.

An expanding Vietnamese middle class and youthful population have helped beer demand soar by 300 percent since 2002, according to Euromonitor, which estimates the market was worth VND147.2 trillion ($6.5 billion) last year.

It predicts per-capita consumption will reach 40.6 liters this year, making Vietnam the biggest beer consumer in Southeast Asia.