F&N looks to grow Southeast Asia presence

Fraser & Neave (F&N) is reportedly seeking to buy Vietnam's largest milk producer Vietnam Dairy Products, as part of its plans to boost market share in Southeast Asia .

F&N's chief executive officer for non-alcoholic beverages, Lee Meng Tat was quoted in a report by Bloomberg saying Vietnam Dairy Products, better known as, Vinamilk has the market presence, well-known brands with strong distribution network.

Vinamilk's biggest shareholder currently is the Vietnam government which holds a 45% stake. Lee said the company will always be on the lookout too if more Vinamilk shares become available. In terms of expanding into SEA – he added that the ideal situation is to acquire, as it’s a “much faster way into the market."

At the moment, the company, which is controlled by Thailand's richest man Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi still has some catch up work to compete with US soft drinks favorites PepsiCo and Coca-Cola. Established in 1883, F&N now carries popular brands such as 100Plus isotonic drink, Nutrisoy soya milk, Magnolia milk and Ice Mountain bottled water. It's also distributes products by Thai Beverage's Chang beer and Oishi Group's green tea drink.

In Malaysia this year, F&N through its subsidiary Fraser & Neave Holdings F&NHB will be injecting over  RM210 million (SG$70million) to fuel business growth in Malaysia. This is in line with Vision 2020 goals of strengthening F&N’s key market positions. F&N will be doing so by leveraging its brand portfolio and distribution and bottling facilities. These capital expenditure projects include a new warehouse facility and investing in other state-of-the-art packaging capabiltities. With these initiaitives in place, it hopes to boost F&NHB’s total asset value in Malaysia to RM1.9 billion.

Earlier this year, F&N also expressed an interest to acquire the Peroni and Grolsch beer brands. F&N then circulated a company announcement regarding the matter stating that the company is constantly on the look out for “strategic opportunities to grow its business”.