Vietnam brewer Sabeco shuns selling a big stake to foreigners: ministry report


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Vietnam brewer Sabeco shuns selling a big stake to foreigners: ministry report


At a time foreign beermakers would like to buy into Vietnam's biggest brewer Sabeco, the state-owned company does not wish to sell a major stake to a foreign shareholder, according to a Trade Ministry report seen by Reuters on Saturday.
Sabeco's position of not wanting a foreign partner will disappoint many potential suitors and could also deal a blow to Vietnam's patchy privatisation drive.
The government, which owns more than 89 percent of Sabeco, has indicated interest in selling a chunk of it, and foreigners are keen to get into Asia's third-biggest beer market after China and Japan, with consumption of about 3 billion liters a year.
The trade ministry report was prepared for a Thursday meeting between ministry officials and heads of some state-owned enterprises, including Sabeco. Foreign media were not invited to the meeting.
Efforts to contact Sabeco on Saturday for comment weren't successful.
Foreigners are showing strong interest in Vietnam, which has 90 million people and this year has grown 6.68 percent, its fastest pace in five years.
On Friday, a unit of Thailand's Boon Rawd Brewery, who brews Singha beer, signed a $1.1 billion strategic deal with Vietnam's Masan Group to buy stakes in two of Masan's unlisted units including a beer firm for expansion into Vietnam.
Thai Beverage PCL, Thailand's leading beverage conglomerate, has expressed interested in buying a stake in Sabeco.
State media in Vietnam has also named Heineken, Asahi and SABMiller PLC as potential buyers of Sabeco, which brews Bia Saigon.
The government has struggled to find strategic investors for state-controlled companies, sometimes because only small stakes have been offered.
Sabeco had an initial public offering since 2008 but has yet list itself on the stock exchange as required under the law.
Formally known as Saigon Beer, Alcohol, Beverage Corporation, Sabeco is among the few state-owned enterprises in Vietnam that perform relatively well.

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