Thai Beverage single candidate for the takeover of Sabeco


by Mai Nguyen and Anshuman Daga

HANOI/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Thai Beverage is the only candidate to have submitted an offer to purchase all of the shares offered by the State of vietnam in the framework of privatization for an amount of nearly five billion dollars ($4.25 billion) of Sabeco, the largest brewer in the country.

The youth of the vietnamese population and a booming economy were supposed to do of Sabeco a valuable asset for the brewers international who want to develop in South-East Asia, but a high minimum price and the cap of the participation imposed on foreign investors seem to have discouraged potential buyers.

The ministry of Commerce said Sunday in a statement that Vietnam Beverage, the local subsidiary of Thai Beverage, had registered to participate in the auction of Sabeco, during which the State has to cede approximately 54% of the share capital in the brewer.

In a notice published on the stock Exchange of Singapore on Sunday night, Thai Beverage has said that its subsidiary had submitted the registration form to participate in the tender.

“The price of the offer of Vietnam Beverage will not be finalized and notified at the ministry (…) on the 18 December 2017,” said Thai Bev.

The government has set a minimum sale price of 320.000 vnd (11,97 euro) per share for Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corporation (Sabeco), whose Stock price has almost tripled to 309.200 dongs since its ipo a year ago.

Sources had told Reuters earlier this month that Thai Bev, controlled by tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, appeared as a candidate well-positioned because it knows well in the vietnamese system, and sees Sabeco the key to its development outside of its domestic market.

The participation of foreign groups in this award specific is capped at 39%, a 10% stake of Sabeco is already in the hands of non-residents. Local candidates, however, can acquire a majority stake up to 54%. The Dutch Heineken in its side holds 5% of the brewer.

Citing sources close to the matter, Reuters had reported on December 10 that of the large brewers such as Thai Beverage, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Kirin Holdings, Asahi Group Holdings and San Miguel were interested in Sabeco.

“There was a gap between what the government wants to achieve and the manner in which the brewers’ international view this auction,” said a source close to the folder.

“At a traditional auction, the candidates know in advance what involvement they will have in the end and bid accordingly,” said the source.

Unlike the auctions on the developed markets, where the competing candidates are eliminated as the different tours, and where offers can be adjusted, in the case of Sabeco, the investors must submit in a sealed envelope with a unique offering for a specific number of shares pursuant to auction in a single round.

On the basis of the minimum price asked by the government to a participation of 54%, the ratio of Sabeco is of the order of 36, then he turns around 15 for some of the largest brewers in the world, according to data from Reuters.

(with Chayut Setboonsarng in Bangkok; Claude Chendjou for the French service, edited by Wilfrid Exbrayat)

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