By? Agence France-Presse
ThaiBev took a majority stake worth $4.8 billion in Vietnam’s largest brewer, Sabeco, at a highly-anticipated auction on Monday for shares of the state-owned beer behemoth.
Through its domestic unit Vietnam Beverage, Thai Beverage was the only company to bid for 343.662 million shares, or a 53.59 percent stake, in the company, the Ministry of Industry and Trade said earlier.
An unnamed domestic individual also bid on 20,000 shares, it added. They were the only two investors listed.
The Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange confirmed in a report after the sale Monday the sole investors were “successful” in their bids.
Sabeco, the country’s largest brewer which produces the popular Saigon Special and 333, announced late last month it would sell off a nearly 54 percent stake in the company for $14.10 per share, and that foreign ownership would be capped at 49 percent. The company is already 10 percent foreign-owned.
The majority of ThaiBev’s recently-established Vietnam Beverage is domestically owned, and it is considered a local company.
Analysts said the share price, foreign ownership cap and a short time span likely turned off potential international bidders who were given less than three weeks to conduct due diligence.
The Vietnamese government may have also tapped ThaiBev for the sale, said Kevin Snowball, CEO of PXP Vietnam Asset Management in Ho Chi Minh City.
“I think that they preferred ThaiBev, I don’t think it was a particularly open auction,” he told AFP.
Sabeco shares closed at $13.60 Monday, down slightly from earlier in the day.
The much-delayed sale comes as Vietnam’s cash-strapped government is seeking to raise funds by “equitising” hundreds of state-owned enterprises — its term for privatisation — including its crown-jewel beer makers.
Though the country has seen solid economic growth of more than five percent annually over the past five years, public debts have soared to close to 65 percent, the maximum allowed by by law.
The government’s equitisation plans have been long delayed and have not garnered the interest or funds hoped for.
“I don’t think that the privatisation of SOEs are proving to be the main area of interest in this market,” said Snowball.