* Share debuts of Sabeco, Habeco expected by Q1 2017
* State divestment aimed at raising $2.2 billion
By Ho Binh Minh
HANOI, Oct 4 Listings by Vietnamese brewers
Sabeco and Habeco could be delayed until the first quarter of
2017, a minister said, due to the completion of formalities and
talks with existing investor Carlsberg.
After the listings the government is expected to sell its
stakes in the country's biggest brewers, ultimately raising $2.2
billion as it loosens its tight grip over one of Asia's most
sought-after beer markets.
The brewers' share debuts were originally scheduled by the
end of 2016.
It takes 12 to 14 weeks for a Vietnamese company to complete
all the requirements for listing, Deputy Industry and Trade
Minister Hoang Quoc Vuong told a news briefing broadcast live by
the government's website on Tuesday.
"The possibility for these two firms to make a share listing
in 2016 is difficult," Vuong said in the broadcast.
"But their listings, if (there is) no delay, will be within
the first quarter of 2017," he said. He gave no specific dates.
Hanoi-based Habeco, 81.79 percent owned by the government
and which brews Bia Ha Noi beer, has also been solving "some
pending issues" with Danish brewer Carlsberg, its
strategic investor, and the process is taking much time, he
Vietnam is Asia's third-largest beer drinker by volume after
China and Japan, putting it on the radar of Asian and European
brewers keen to exploit changing lifestyles and one of the
region's fastest rates of middle-class growth.
Last month the government said it would sell 5.77 percent of
Habeco to Carlsberg, which currently holds a 15.77 percent
stake, while its remaining stake would be auctioned. The aim was
to raise 9 trillion dong ($404 million) in total.
Known for its Bia Saigon and 333 brews, Ho Chi Minh
City-based Sabeco - formally known as the Saigon Beer, Alcohol,
Beverage Corp - commands 45 percent of Vietnam's beer market and
is valued at about $2 billion by Hanoi.
The government plans to sell its 89.59 percent stake in
Sabeco by the end of 2017.
Sabeco has received expressions of interest from major
foreign brewers lured by the size of the Vietnamese market,
including ThaiBev, the flagship company of Bangkok's
billionaire beer magnate Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi.
(Reporting by Ho Binh Minh; Editing by Mark Potter and