The decision, announced at the annual shareholders’ meeting on April 12, caught investor attention due to the fact net profit declined 11 percent in 2018, its first drop since 2013.

Sabeco reported net revenue of VND 35.95 trillion (USD 1.54 billion) in 2018, up 5 percent over 2018 and surpassing the yearly target by more than 2 percent. However, its profit after tax dropped 11 percent on-year to VND 4.4 trillion (roughly USD 189 million).

Beer loaded for sales at the Saigon Beer - Alcohol - Beverage JSC (Sabeco) factory in Ninh Thuan Province

Sabeco witnessed big changes to its management board last year, with a representative of Vietnam Beverage, an indirect subsidiary of Thai Beverage (ThaiBev) controlled by tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, joining its executive board in the second quarter.

The company paid total 35-percent cash dividend last year worth more than VND 2.2 trillion, of which ThaiBev received VND 1.2 trillion. With the higher dividend rate, expected to pay this year, Sabeco will pay an additional VND 960 billion and ThaiBev will collect an extra VND 515 billion.

Sabeco’s undistributed profit was estimated at VND 6.7 trillion after the dividend payment, but the company still faced the risk of being forced to pay tax and fines worth VND 3.14 trillion from the HCM City Tax Department for violations.

Sabeco has set higher targets for 2019 with net revenue of VND 38.87 trillion (USD 1.7 billion) and net profit of VND 4.7 trillion (USD 202 million), up 7.5 percent and 6.7 percent year on-year, respectively.

Neo Gim Sion Bennett, Sabeco’s general director, has maintained a positive outlook for Vietnam’s beer market with a growth rate of 5 percent over the next five years.

Sabeco plans a 6-per-cent increase in output to more than 1.9 billion liters in 2019. Last year, nearly 1.8 billion liters of Sabeco’s beer were consumed, up 0.3 percent year-on-year.

The company said it will invest to raise the capacity of sales teams and distribution networks rather than applying discounts, emphasizing the policy of maintaining stable prices throughout the system.

Sabeco is concentrating on the domestic market and will strengthen its brand before reaching out to the world, the company representative said at the meeting.

Regarding the intention of buying more shares in Sabeco, ThaiBev said it is satisfied with the current ownership and if more room is available, it will consider the move carefully.

Shares in Sabeco, with sticker SAB on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange, are the most expensive shares nationwide, being traded at around 244,000 VND (10.48 USD) per share.

Source: VNA