ThaiBev, which owns the Chang Beer and Oishi green tea brands in Thailand, has approached the Vietnamese government to buy a stake in state-owned Sabeco, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Sabeco Chairman Phan Dang Tuat told local news website VnExpress that his company has learned about ThaiBev’s interest in buying its stakes.

The Ministry of Industry Trade, which currently owns 89 percent of Sabeco, holds the right to sell the brewer, Tuat said.

“If the government wants to restructure Sabeco and sell up to 53 percent of the company to foreign companies as the Wall Street Journal said, qu..., we can't comment on that,” said Tuat.

“However, Sabeco’s value is higher than the valuation of US$2 billion reported by the WSJ,” he said.

Sabeco, fully known as Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corp., possesses popular brands like 333 and Saigon Beer. The company made up 46 percent of Vietnam’s beer market last year, according to market research firm Euromonitor.

Sabeco said it posted a revenue of VND14.3 trillion ($671 million) in the first half of this year after selling roughly 650 million liters of beer during that period.

Last August, Berli Jucker (BJC), a Thai company also controlled by Charoen, agreed to buy the Vietnam unit of Germany's Metro AG for €655 million ($876 million).

Two months later, BJC shareholders approved a 16 billion baht ($494 million) rights issue plan, enabling the Thai firm to finance the acquisition of Metro’s cash and carry business in Vietnam.

Charoen, who according to Forbes has a net worth of $11.3 billion at the end of June, also holds an unidentified stake in the five-star Meliá Hanoi hotel through his conglomerate, TCC Land.

Thanh Nien News - November 15, 2014