Brewer toasts HK's mature, rational market

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 July, 2007, 12:00am

Tsingtao Brewery, the first mainland company to be listed in Hong Kong, has vowed not to abandon the city's stock market, describing it as more mature and rational than its counterparts across the border.

While the booming A-share market might be attracting many mainland firms, Tsingtao Brewery company secretary Lucy Yuan Lu said the Hong Kong market provided the flexibility and convenience not found in Shenzhen and Shanghai.

In July 1993, Tsingtao became the first mainland company, or H share, to list in Hong Kong. 'As the company continues to develop, we may need to raise funds and will consider both Shanghai and Hong Kong,' Ms Yuan said. 'The H-share market is more mature and rational and the investors have a longer-term view. The Hong Kong market can also raise foreign currency and it has more innovative new products.'

Ms Yuan said Tsingtao Brewery's 46 per cent gain in earnings last year was partly due to increased productivity following its strategic alliance with Anheuser-Busch. The United States beer giant, after exercising a convertible bond in 2005, now holds 27 per cent of Tsingtao and provides technical and training support to the mainland brewer.

'The convertible bond issue was made in the Hong Kong markets,' Ms Yuan said. 'The Hong Kong professionals are innovative and this is something the A-share markets are not yet ready to offer.'

Even though Tsingtao Brewery remains the most profitable beer maker in the mainland, the 104-year-old brand has lost the title of No1 brewer to China Resources Enterprise.

China Resources, which sells beer under the Snow brand through a venture with SAB Miller, last year sold 5.3 million kilolitres compared with Tsingtao's 4.54 million kilolitres.

But Ms Yuan said she was not worried about losing the title in the short term. 'It is just like running in a marathon race,' she said. 'You do not always need to be in the leading position. What is important is to win the race in the long run.

'We are in a better position as Tsingtao Brewery is a sponsor for the Beijing Olympics next year and China Resources is not.'