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

Vietnam Beverage, a unit of Thai Beverage, has expressed interest in buying about 51 percent of Vietnam's top brewer, Sabeco, the Vietnamese trade ministry said on Wednesday. The Thai Beverage unit was the only prospective bidder that had registered to do so, the ministry said earlier this week.

According to an announcement, ThaiBev only submitted a notification that it is possible it will buy 25% or more shares of SABECO instead of a registration of interest.

ThaiBev, in a Dec 12 filing with the Singapore Exchange (SGX), said that Vietnam Beverage has "not submitted the registration form for participating in the bid, submitted any bid or reached any agreement or decision to acquire a stake" in Sabeco, which is Vietnam's biggest brewer.

Thai Beverage Public Company Limited (ThaiBev) clarified reports on its bidding for shares in Saigon Beer - Alcohol - Beverage Joint Stock Corporation (SABECO) through its associate Vietnam Beverage Company Limited (Vietnam Beverage).

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.

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