The breweries in Vietnam – Focus on Carlsberg

Huda leads the beer market in Hue

August 2012 –  This “Focus on Carlsberg” is our fourth in the series of  articles looking at the major brewing groups in Vietnam.   





You can find others here:

Carlsberg ( entered Vietnam in 1993 through the formation of the South East Asia Brewery, a joint venture with Viet Ha Brewery, owned by the Hanoi People’s Committee. 

They have since increased their position in Vietnam through a series of JV’s and direct investments.

Operating structure:

The Vietnam beer market is split into three areas of operation for Carlsberg, north, south and central.  This split is not just geographic but also related to the different investment vehicles that Carlsberg has entered into. 

Region Company Current Structure History


Carlsberg Indochina

100% Foreign invested company

Established 2007


South East Asia Brewery Ltd.


Viet Ha Brewery (40%)

Carlsberg (60%)

1993 – creation of the South East Asia Brewery, a JV with Viet Ha Brewery (owned by the Hanoi Peoples Committee) and the Industrialisation Fund for Developing Countries (IFU).

1997 – Carlsberg acquired the IFU’s shareholding



Strategic Investment status after 2008 auction:

Habeco & employees (81.79%)

Carlsberg (15.77%)

Public holding (1.88%)

Employees (0.56%)

2007 – Carlsberg invested to acquire 10% stake in Habeco. 

2008 – Carlsberg appointed strategic partner of Habeco – shareholding raised to 16%

2009 – Carlsberg & Habeco signed MoU to increase Carlsberg’s stake in Habeco from 16% to 30%

2012 – Carlsberg’s stake has not yet been increased as allowed for by this MoU


Halong Brewery


Quang Ninh Province Peoples Committee (70%)

Carlsberg (30%)

2007 – Carlsberg acquired 30%


Hué Brewery

100% Foreign invested company

1990 – Founding of the Hué Brewery Co.

1994 – Creation of the Hué Brewery joint venture, a 50:50 JV with the Thua Thien-Hue Province Peoples Committee

2011 – Carlsberg acquired the People’s Committee’s 50% shareholding


Hanoi Vung Tau Joint Stock Company


Habeco (45%)

Carlsberg (45%)

Vietnam Glazed Terra Cotta, Ceramics and Glass Joint-Stock Company (Vinaceglass) (10%)

2007 – Creation of the Hanoi Vung Tau Joint Stock Company, a JV with Habeco

2011 –Brewery commissioned at Ba Ria-Vung Tau. 


Carlsberg market position in Vietnam:

Carlsberg’s partner, Habeco is the market leader for beer in northern Vietnam, while Carlsberg’s Hue Brewery leads in the north of central Vietnam. 

September 2009 the head of Carlsberg Indochina was reported as claiming that its market share of volume in Vietnam, together with all of its partnerships, including Habeco, stood at 32%.   The current Carlsberg Group website estimates its share to be approximately 33%. 

This number seems high to us but of course we previously noted that “if we add the claimed volume shares of all the brewers in Vietnam, we arrive at a total significantly greater than 100%” (

Carlsberg JV brand names:

One interesting, if slightly quirky, aspect about Carlsberg’s operations in Vietnam is how it has named its products.

The Halida brand name was created as an abbreviation of Hanoi, Lien Doanh (which means joint venture in Vietnamese) and Danmach (The Vietnamese word for Denmark). 

Similarly, the Huda name was of similar derivation, combining Hue and Danmach. 

We’re not sure if it’s because of or in spite of these naming formats that these local brands have been quite successful. 

Certainly, at the very least, it produces names that the consumer can pronounce which, as we shall see in later articles, has surprisingly not been a prerequisite for some companies launching brands into the Vietnam beer market. 

Carlsberg beers in Vietnam excl Habeco


Carlsberg has been relatively successful with its investments and growth of mainstream Vietnamese brands.

Nevertheless, it has struggled to penetrate the premium segment.  Its namesake Carlsberg brand is not considered as an option by many premium drinkers.  The reasons for this are many but to a large degree, it’s due to inappropriate pricing in the early days.  It will be difficult for the Carlsberg brand to grow significant share from its current position without a complete rethink of its strategy in premium.

Thus like Sabeco and Habeco (in which it is invested), as it really competes only in mainstream and budget segments, it risks declines in its core mainstream and certainly Bia Hoi volumes as a result of increasing market premiumisation.  

It has recently announced a further “cooperation deal” with Habeco in which it has greater access to Habeco’s distribution channels.  If this eventuates, and Carlsberg re-evaluates how it positions its portfolio, this may serve as a strong platform for future growth.

Continuing the series of articles looking at the breweries in Vietnam, we will be releasing our “Focus on San Miguel” w/c 27th August so please come back for that.

Please also feel free to contact us for more information.

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