Lotte to sell stakes in confectionary maker Bibica

By Minh Son   December 25, 2020 | 12:54 am PT
Lotte to sell stakes in confectionary maker Bibica
Workers pacakaging custard cakes at a Bibica Factory in southern Binh Duong province. Photo courtesy of Bibica.
South Korea’s Lotte Group has registered to sell its entire 44.03 percent stake in Bibica after a bruising eight-year battle for control of the snack firm.

It will sell nearly 6.8 million shares between December 29 this year and January 27, 2021, through both order-matching and put-through methods, according to filings it has made with the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange.

Bibica shares closed at VND58,000 ($2.51) on Thursday, but at 11 a.m. on Friday hit the upper limit for the day of VND62,000 ($2.68) on news of Lotte Group’s sell-off.

Lotte first acquired a 30 percent stake in Bibica in 2007, becoming the snack firm’s largest shareholder and with an ambition of making it a leading name in the confectionery industry.

But, worried that the South Korean investor was plotting a takeover, the confectionary maker decided to bring in a domestic investor to act as a counterweight to it.

SSI Securities Corporation and its related companies entered the race, but by August 2013 Lotte owned 38.6 percent while SSI was distant second with 20.7 percent.

Then began disputes between the two major shareholders, which stymied the company’s operations back for several years.

In 2015 the Bibica achieved some stability after PAN Food, a subsidiary of agriculture company PAN Group, bought out SSI’s stake to own 42.3 percent.

The power struggle continued, with the difference in ownership coming to as close as 0.3 percentage points at one time.

In February 2017, PAN Food made successful public bids to buy shares of Bibica to raise its stake to 50.07 percent.

But the tensions persisted. At the 2018 annual general meeting, Lotte vetoed the business plan and sought explanations for some investment proposals.

PAN Group was meanwhile eyeing 100 percent ownership, having passed a resolution to buy the remaining 49.93 percent in July 2019.

Bibica is well known for its pies, sponge cakes, moon cakes and biscuits. PAN Group has interests in coffee, sunflower seeds, fish sauces, and seafood.

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