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Vietnam to sell remaining 36% stake in largest brewer Sabeco

(Adds Sabeco comments in paragraphs 6-7)

By Khanh Vu

HANOI, July 2 (Reuters) – Vietnam’s government will sell its remaining 36% stake in the country’s largest brewer Sabeco by the end of this year, according to a government document released this week.

Vietnam has been seeking to speed up its privatisation of state-owned firms in recent years to improve their performance and to fill its coffers.

Sabeco, formally known as Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corp., has a market capitalisation of $4.5 billion, according to Refinitiv data.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade will complete the transfer of the stake to the state-owned State Capital Investment Corp (SCIC) by the end of August to pave the way for the sale, the June 29 document said.

A SCIC official said on Thursday it did not have a detailed plan for the sale yet.

In a statement on Saturday, Sabeco said it welcomed the decision and looked forward to having SCIC as shareholder.

“We look forward to welcoming SCIC as our shareholder and working closely with SCIC to the betterment of Sabeco in the near future,” it said.

Apart from Sabeco, the government is also seeking to sell all or part of its stakes at more than 150 other companies, including Vietnam National Petroleum Group and Vietnam Airlines, according to the document.

The government in 2017 sold a 53.59% stake in Sabeco to ThaiBev through a local entity for $4.84 billion. A year later, Sabeco, known for Bia Saigon and 333 brews, removed the foreign ownership limit at the company.

Sabeco said last month its business was beginning to regain momentum after suffering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and tough local drink-driving laws earlier this year. (Reporting by Khanh Vu; additional reporting by Phuong Nguyen; Editing by Ed Davies and Christian Schmollinger)

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