HANOI (Reuters) - Thai Beverage PCL has complained to the Vietnamese government that its proposed board members for the country’s largest brewer Sabeco have not been accepted, according to a government website.
Thaibev bought a controlling 53.59 percent stake last year in Sabeco, formally known as Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corp, but has not been able to put representatives on its management board, the complaint said.
“The government, as instructed by Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue, has told the Ministry of Industry and Trade to quickly look into and handle the proposals from ThaiBev in accordance with the laws and report the result to the Prime Minister,” the government statement said.
ThaiBev declined to comment on Friday. Calls to the Ministry of Industry and Trade in Hanoi went unanswered.
But allegations that ThaiBev executives would not be able to join the board are “not true”, a senior financial executive at Sabeco told Reuters on Friday.
“I know that ThaiBev wants to send three people to join the board, and I think they’ll be able to join,” said the source, who was not authorized to speak to the media and said the process had been delayed due to “complicated procedures”.
Sabeco is working on the issue, the source said, and will discuss accepting ThaiBev’s nominees at its shareholders’ meeting next month.
ThaiBev, owned by Thai magnate Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, won an auction in December last year to buy the Sabeco stake, which sells brands such as Saigon Beer and 333, for $4.84 billion.
ThaiBev bought the Sabeco shares at 320,000 dong ($14.03) apiece. They were trading at 239,200 on Friday, a decline of 25.25 percent from the original price.
“This is a lesson for the government,” said Le Dang Doanh, an independent economist in Hanoi and former economic adviser to the Vietnamese government.
“It shouldn’t sell a controlling stake to a single foreign investor if it wants to retain its controlling power there,” said Doanh.
“Technically, Sabeco is now a Thai company and we have to accept that fact.”
Additional reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng in BANGKOK; Editing by James Pearson and Kim Coghill