Carlsberg CEO Cees t Hart has travelled to Vietnam three times in the last six weeks

Carlsberg CEO Cees 't Hart has travelled to Vietnam three times in the last six weeks

The head of Carlsberg has flagged that a decision from the Vietnamese Government on the future of takeover target Hanoi Beer Alcohol & Beverage Corp (Habeco) is in the offing.

In a conference call following the release of the brewer's first-quarter sales results, CEO Cees 't Hart said he has visited Vietnam three times in the last six weeks. His admission comes about six months after Carlsberg confirmed it was in "dialogue" with the country's government over increasing its 17% holding in Habeco. The state-controlled brewer is the country's beer market leader.

"The process is, if you like, hot," 't Hart said in the call late last week.

"They [the Vietnamese Government] want to privatise three companies this year. It still seems that they will go first for Habeco. But, that changes as well from time-to-time, first Sabeco (Saigon Beer Alcohol and Beverages Corp) or first Habeco."

Heineken, the country's second-biggest brewer, holds a 5% stake in Sabeco.

Carlsberg's CEO warned that the timing of the sale is still not clear. "It's pretty complicated, cumbersome," he said. "But, as you can hear, we are hunting to get it.

"The process is not less good or better than we anticipated. It's just taking a lot of time."

Vietnam is one of Asia's most developed beer markets, with per-capita-consumption of around 41 litres. Beer accounts for 94% of the country's total alcohol consumption, and boasts a 31% share of the total beverage market.

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