ThaiBev confirms unit's interest in Vietnam's Sabeco, but no formal bid yet

Bottles of Saigon beer move along a production line at a factory in Hanoi, Vietnam. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Thai Beverage's (ThaiBev) indirectly associated company Vietnam Beverage has until the last day of the bid registration process, Dec 17, to consider whether to place a formal bid for Saigon Beer - Alcohol - Beverage Joint Stock Corporation (Sabeco), and until Dec 18 to submit a bidding price for common shares owned by Vietnam's Ministry of Industry and Trade.

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.

"ThaiBev wishes to clarify that the registration of interest referred to in the media reports is actually only a notification submitted to the organiser of the Competitive Offering of Sabeco shares pursuant to a regulation requiring potential investors who have an interest in acquiring 25 per cent or more of Sabeco shares to indicate such a possibility," ThaiBev said in a clarification note to the SGX, adding that it "does not constitute" a commitment on the part of Vietnam Beverage to bid for such a portion of Sabeco's shares.

The Vietnam Trade Ministry - which represents state shares in Sabeco - said that foreign investors can join up with Vietnamese firms to buy Sabeco's shares, but must comply with local laws and regulations, according to Reuters' reporting.

ThaiBev was one of about a half-dozen foreign companies, including Anheuser-Busch InBev NV and Asahi Group Holdings Ltd, that expressed an interest in bidding for Sabeco, in a sale that would be valued at more than US$2 billion (S$2.7 billion).

ThaiBev says it will make further announcements to update shareholders on any developments.

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