The Hanoitimes - Vietnam`s largest brewery Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corp (Sabeco), has kicked off its international roadshow in Singapore on Friday, ahead of much-awaited share sales by the Vietnamese government. Participants in the gathering, however, the company did not reveal details of share sales.
"This is the right time in terms of the economy and stock market conditions," a company official said about the launch of Sabeco share sales. The plan is for the government to sell 54% of its shareholdings in the company out of the 89.6% it holds now, although the details are being worked out by the government, according to the official. There was speculation that the government intends to maintain its stakes over 35% so it can continue to hold the veto rights.
The foreign ownership in Sabeco is capped at 49%. Vietnamese authorities have discussed breaking up the 54% stakes into smaller lots to auction off. But it is speculated that, depending on how desperately the government needs money, it may change the sales method as well as the foreign ownership limit.
"This meeting and the one in London are non-deal roadshows," the official said. Another set of meetings will be held on Nov. 27. "The deal roadshow will be held in Ho Chi Minh City on Nov. 29," where the price, percentage and method of sales will be announced, following the government's approval, the official said. Among a number of share-sales plans by the Vietnamese government, Sabeco has been attracting a particularly high level of interest from international investors because of the company's strong growth potential.
Around a dozen parties showed up at the roadshow, including Japanese beer giants Asahi Breweries and Kirin, as well as investment funds and banks from Asia and Europe. A representative from Bao Viet Securities, acting as adviser to Sabeco, as well as an official from another Vietnamese brewery, Hanoi Beer Alcohol Beverage Corp., or Habeco, were present.
The participants were not given much information other than the company's general business strategies. "I don't know anything about the deal. We have been following this potential deal for years, but we still don't know what they are thinking," one of the participants from an international fund said after the closed-door meeting with the company.
Still, some said they sensed the government's determination to speed up the process. "This is probably the largest roadshow held by the company. I felt their intention to sell the shares quickly," an official from an Asian investment bank said. The Vietnamese government announced it will sell its entire stakes in 12 major state-owned companies, including Sabeco, but the process has been much slower than originally expected, and the stakes offloaded by the government have been limited.
Sabeco's share price has surged over the past year, and went up sharply after the Ministry of Industry and Trade announced the plan for international roadshows. "The current level of share price is not conducive for potential strategic investors such as international breweries to invest. Given that Sabeco is holding roadshows in Singapore and London, the company may be trying to attract more financial investors such as funds," a mergers and acquisitions consultant from an international accounting company said.