Thai Beverage unit seeks to buy 51 percent of Vietnam's Sabeco

By Reuters/Mai Nguyen   December 13, 2017 | 09:23 pm GMT+7
Thai Beverage unit seeks to buy 51 percent of Vietnam's Sabeco
Men drink Saigon beer, a product of Sabeco, at a restaurant in Hanoi. Photo by Reuters

Vietnam Beverage Company Ltd wants to buy 327 million Sabeco shares, equal to around 51 percent of the beer firm.

A unit of Thai Beverage has expressed interest in buying about 51 percent of Vietnam’s Sabeco, the Vietnamese trade ministry, which is looking to sell a $5 billion stake in the nation’s biggest brewer, said.

Vietnam Beverage Company Ltd wants to buy 327 million Sabeco shares, equal to around 51 percent of the beer firm, the ministry said in a statement sent to reporters on Wednesday.

The Sabeco auction is on Dec. 18, and bidders keen to own a stake of 25 percent or more of Sabeco’s shares need to inform local authorities a week ahead. The Thai Beverage unit was the only prospective bidder that had registered to do so, the ministry said earlier this week.

Vietnam announced last month its biggest-ever and long-delayed state sale of Sabeco, or Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corp, and said it was open to selling a stake of nearly 54 percent, though it retained a cap of 49 percent on foreign ownership.

Sources have told Reuters that Thai Bev, controlled by tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, was shaping up as a strong contender for the stake, as it was familiar with the Vietnam system and saw Sabeco as key to expanding outside its home market.

Other global brewing groups including Anheuser-Busch InBev, Kirin Holdings, Asahi Group Holdings and San Miguel were also interested in the auction, the sources said.

Vietnam’s privatization is gearing up quickly after years of delay. The government last week approved plans to raise more than $570 million through initial public offerings of three of its key energy firms.

A stake sale of smaller state brewer Habeco is also seen progressing, with Danish brewer Carlsberg saying they are edging closer to reaching an agreement with the Vietnamese government to increase its stake in Habeco.

 
 
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