A blessing in disguise? Singapore firm's 55 per cent stake could be sold to Myanmar Economic Holdings, with the valuation to be decided by a valuer appointed by both parties. Yes. This is finally the outcome of the last year news, "F&N faces claim over stake in Myanmar brewery".
Myanmar Economic Holdings (MEHL) said on Friday (Oct 31) that arbitrators have affirmed its rights to buy over Singapore food giant Fraser and Neave's 55 per cent stake in Myanmar Brewery at fair value as at a date close to Apr 24, 2013.From Channel NewsAsia, "F&N loses arbitration, may be forced to sell stake in Myanmar Brewery".
The valuation of F&N's stake in Myanmar Brewery - the brewer of Myanmar Beer, the country's best-selling beer - will be decided by a valuer to be appointed by both parties, MEHL said in a statement.
MEHL said it agreed with F&N to hold the arbitration in Singapore as it was "very important" that foreign investors had confidence in the way Myanmar did business.
MEHL entered into a joint venture with Heineken through its Asian arm, Asia Pacific Breweries Limited (APB), in 1995 to set up Myanmar Brewery.
Under that agreement, MEHL held 45 per cent of MBL's shareholding and APB, the remaining 55 per cent. APB transferred its shareholding to F&N in 1997.
On Apr 24, 2013, MEHL exercised its rights under the JV agreement to serve notice on F&N to sell its stake to MEHL or its nominee. It served notice of arbitration on Sep 9, 2013.
F&N, whose shares were suspended from trading earlier today, has not issued a statement.
A military-linked Myanmar conglomerate said it has won an arbitration case against Singapore's Fraser and Neave Ltd that will give it the right to buy the latter's stake in Myanmar's biggest brewery.From Reuters, "Myanmar conglomerate says it has won beer spat with Singapore's F&N".
Myanma Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL) said in a statement on Friday that a panel of two unnamed Singapore arbitrators heard the case in the city state from late June to early July. MEHL said the panel released a ruling earlier on Friday which says MEHL is entitled to buy F&N's shares in Myanmar Brewery.
F&N and its parent company, Thai Beverage PCL, on Friday submitted a request to the Singapore Exchange for a halt in trading of their shares. Officials at F&N didn't immediately respond to calls seeking comment.
Myanma Economic Holdings Limited has won a dispute over the ownership of Myanmar Brewery Limited, the military-owned conglomerate has announced, and will now accelerate plans to buy out its joint venture partner.From Myanmar Times, "Military firm wins arbitration battle with Fraser & Neave".
MEHL has been locked in a legal battle with Singapore-based Fraser and Neave Limited (F&N), which owns 55pc of Myanmar Brewery since August 2013, when it announced it would submit the dispute to an arbitration tribunal in Singapore.
Arbitrators on October 31 upheld MEHL’s right to buy F&N’s shares in the brewery, enabling it to increase its stake from 45pc.
“We are very pleased with the ruling. It vindicates our legal position that the [joint venture agreement] clearly provides for us to buy F&N’s shares after they failed to meet their contractual obligations,” U Myint Aung, MEHL’s deputy managing director, said in a statement.
F&N was a partner with Heineken in Asia Pacific Breweries Limited (APB) until 2012, and also had a longstanding partnership with UMEHL in Myanmar. In 2012, control of Fraser and Neave was bought for US$2.2 billion by ThaiBev, owned by billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi.
F&N sold its other beer investments to Heineken but the Dutch firm did not take on the Myanmar stake, making it F&N’s sole beer holding. The brewery produces popular domestic brands Myanmar Beer and Andaman Gold, and brews Tiger Beer under licence.
MEHL argued that ThaiBev’s buyout of F&N constituted a change in ownership and therefore violated the joint venture terms, which gave the partners first right of first refusal to purchase each others’ shares before they are offered to a third party.
In November 2013, MEHL said in a rare public statement that it had started arbitration proceedings after negotiations between the two companies broke down.
Following the October 31 ruling, MEHL will now be able to purchase F&N’s shares at a price set by a valuer agreed upon by both companies. Originally MEHL quoted F&N a price that was set by the Controller of Military Accounts (CMA), which, though authorised to audit in Myanmar, is not a certified public accountant, according to a lawyer familiar with the case.
The case was touted as a test for Myanmar’s legal framework and foreign investment environment. U Myint Aung said that the ruling should bolster confidence in the way the country handles such disputes.
“It is very important for Myanmar that foreign investors have confidence in the way we do business. The conduct of this arbitration shows our commitment to the rule of law and that we will always adhere to due process,” U Myint Aung said.
F&N issued a request for a trading halt on the Singapore stock exchange early on the morning of October 31. An announcement from the group on the ruling was expected later that evening.
The beer market in Myanmar is forecast to see considerable growth. State- and military-owned enterprises have had a virtual monopoly in the sector for decades but the government decided to open it up to foreign brewers, including Heineken’s APB, last year.
Figures from Euromonitor International show that the legal beer market hit 172 million litres in 2013, with annual growth of 5.5pc since 2009. In dollar terms, beer sales amounted to US$265 million in 2013, and have posted 14pc annual growth between 2009 and 2013. Annual growth of 21pc is expected between 2014 and 2018, when the market is forecast to reach $675 million.
Despite the growth, beer consumption in Myanmar remains low compared to other countries in the region. Myanmar drinkers consumed just 3.2 litres per person in 2013, far behind neighbouring Vietnam, where per-capita consumption was 36 litres, and the Asia Pacific region average of 18 litres.
Danish brewer Carlsberg will officially open its production facility the first week of December. Dutch rival Heineken is constructing its own brewery.