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Japan’s Sapporo buys partner’s stake to fully own Vietnam beer unit

Brewing company Sapporo Vietnam Co. Ltd. has become a wholly owned subsidiary of Japan’s Sapporo International Inc. after the Japanese firm spent a reported US$8.28 million acquiring the entire stake of its Vietnamese partner in the venture.

Brewing company Sapporo Vietnam Co. Ltd. has become a wholly owned subsidiary of Japan's Sapporo International Inc. after the Japanese firm spent a reported US$8.28 million acquiring the entire stake of its Vietnamese partner in the venture.
Brewing company Sapporo Vietnam Co. Ltd. has become a wholly owned subsidiary of Japan’s Sapporo International Inc. after the Japanese firm spent a reported US$8.28 million acquiring the entire stake of its Vietnamese partner in the venture.

The brewery was established in 2010 in the southern Vietnamese province of Long An, with state-owned cigarette producer Vinataba then possessing a 29 percent stake in the two-party venture.

Sapporo International Inc. last month spent more than a billion yen ($8.28 million) buying out its partner’s share to make the brewing firm 100 percent foreign-owned, according to Nikkei Asian Review.

Vinataba sold its entire stake in the beer venture to comply with a government order that all state-owned enterprises withdraw from none-core business fields, newswire VnExpress said, citing a company source.

The cigarette producer has previously divested from a major Vietnamese insurer, and hinted at the sellout of its stake at Sapporo Vietnam earlier this year.

Founded in 1876, Sapporo is the oldest brand of beer in Japan and is now present in 40 countries around the world.

The Sapporo brewery in Long An has a design capacity of 150 million liters a year, and is selling its made-in-Vietnam Sapporo Premium to 12 markets.

After fully owning the Vietnam unit, Sapporo International Inc. is expected to re-launch its locally brewed, full-bodied Sapporo Premium beer by giving it the lighter, crisper taste that Vietnamese prefer, according to Nikkei Asian Review.

The Japanese firm will also lower the price of a 330ml can to the equivalent of about $0.66 to put Sapporo Premium in the same price range as brews from Heineken, an earlier comer to the country’s market for high-end beer, and other rivals, the business news website said.

Around 4,000 restaurants and shops, mostly located in Ho Chi Minh City, are selling Sapporo Premium and the company is eyeing an expansion of its network of vendors to Hanoi, the central city of Da Nang and other localities country wide.

Sapporo Vietnam, whose sales volume rose a healthy 34 percent last year, aims to increase the number of vendors to some 7,000 by the Lunar New Year, which is in early February, according to Nikkei Asian Review.

An addition of around 1.4 billion liters of beer has been planned for brewing and consuming in the next five years in Vietnam, a $3 billion market where beer-lovers downed more than 3.1 billion liters in 2014.