March 29 (Bloomberg) — Heineken NV, the world’s third- largest brewer, submitted the highest offer for an Ethiopian brewery being sold by the government and is the only bidder for a second one, the country’s privatization agency said.
Heineken offered $85.2 million for Bedele Brewery SC, Wondafrash Assefa, spokesman for the Private and Public Enterprises Supervising Agency, said in an interview today in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. The Amsterdam-based company is also prepared to pay $78.2 million for Harar Brewery SC and there are no competing bids, he said.
“Our bids were the highest and we look forward to engaging formally with the Ethiopian government once it has completed its review of the detailed bid documentation,” Heineken spokesman John-Paul Schuirink said in an e-mailed statement. The company was told that process may take “up to 120 days,” he said.
Ethiopia is selling state-owned companies to private investors as it seeks to diversify its economy. The Horn of Africa nation, the continent’s biggest coffee producer, relies on agriculture to generate 43 percent of its economic output, according to the CIA World Factbook.
The government plans to sell 50 companies by mid-2015, including agricultural, food and printing businesses, according to Wondafrash.
Most of Ethiopia’s private businesses were nationalized in the 1980s under the former Communist Derg regime. That government was toppled by the current ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, a party with Marxist roots that has shifted toward a market-based economy since it came to power in 1991.
“The private sector is more efficient than the public sector,” Wondafrash said.
Bedele, situated in western Ethiopia, has the capacity to produce 300,000 330-milliliter (0.7-pint) bottles of beer per day, according to the agency’s website. Harar Brewery can produce 200,000 hectoliters (5.28 million gallons) of the beverage annually, it said.
Among other bidders for Bedele were SouthWest Development Plc of Ethiopia, which bid $70 million; Carlsberg A/S, the Copenhagen-based beer maker, which offered $68 million; and BGI Ethiopia, a unit of French brewer and vintner Groupe Castel, which bid $64 million, Wondafrash said.
“It’s good to see the big companies interested,” he said. “And it’s also good for them, as these breweries have a lot of resources.”
BGI Ethiopia, Ethiopia’s biggest brewer by sales, accounted for about half of the 300 million liters of beer sold in the 12 months to July 7, 2009, in Africa’s second-most populous nation, Access Capital, an Addis Ababa-based research group, said in May. Beer consumption is expected to grow by about 15 percent every year for five years, it said.
“With its large, growing population, political stability, improving economy and rapidly growing beer market, Ethiopia is a promising, long-term growth market for Heineken in Africa,” Schuirink said.